And now, in Review…

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

13 Going on 30 … is notable for exactly one reason: Jennifer Garner takes flight as a star in this movie. She’s not quite to the heights of Roberts or Witherspoon, but she’s a reliable back-up player nonetheless.

Those who enjoy Garner on TV’s Alias won’t be surprised by her acting ability, but they might be surprised by her goofiness.

Her portrayal of a woman-child does not have the emotional heart of Tom Hanks’s portrayal of a man-child in Big, but she comes close enough.

Indie director Gary Winick (Tadpole) gives this comedy a winning sheen, but has trouble ignoring the fact that it is assembled from bits of other, better comedies (even the score is ripped off from About a Boy). The movie actually seems to drop its girl-grows-up-too-fast premise, lest it mess up the romantic complications.

But you don’t care, do you? All you care about is the fact that Garner is winning and Mark Ruffalo is easy-going as her love interest. Judy Greer adds some fun spice as a best friend/rival and Andy Serkis proves that he’s more than just Gollum with a slightly catty role. three out of five stars

Man on Fire …feels like one of the first movies to deal with this country’s post-Sept. 11 emotions honestly and openly. In it, characters are deeply wronged and the only proper response is brutal savagery. Evil exists in the world and it can only be destroyed by descending to evil’s depraved level.

Theoretically, this should be okay. After other moments of national grief (Vietnam, Watergate, etc.), revenge movies were big business. Clearly the renaissance of revenge flicks indicates that we want some hardcore revenge.

It’s just too bad we can’t get a slightly better movie.

Man on Fire is elegant for its first hour and 15 minutes or so, but then it descends into bloody clich