13 Going On 30

My wife dragged me to this on a Sunday night, and even though I know there are a lot of people out there who will like this movie, I can't bring myself to give it more than two stars. Much of the humor in the movie is the sort that I just can't watch. In fact, for long portions of the film I was physically uncomfortable. But I do think that Jennifer Garner did a good job, as did Mark Ruffalo. The comparison to Big is obvious, but apt nonetheless. I think that Big was a better movie, but the focuses of the two films are different; in Big you want Tom Hanks' character to go back to being a kid, where in 13 Going On 30 what you really want is for Jennifer Garner to fix the things that she did wrong in her past.

Viewed: 4/24/2004 | Released: 4/13/2004 | Score: C

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Happy Hour

I saw this one at the Newport Beach Film Festival, which was great fun for me and my wife. This movie, like so many independent films, featured excellent performances, but somewhat mediocre filmcraft. Many of the scenes were poorly lit and some of the editing seemed a bit amateurish. Still, the performances made up for it. Anthony LaPaglia's portrayal of an alcholic writer's downward spiral was tragic but compelling, and Eric Stoltz as his dry-witted sidekick was just right. My complaint about the film is that, even though LaPaglia's character goes through hell, I still feel that a story about a lone genius alcoholic can't help but glamorize alcoholism just a bit. But my wife quite vehemently disagreed with me, so what do I know?

Viewed: 4/16/2004 | Released: 4/9/2003 | Score: B

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Kill Bill: Vol. 2

If the first Kill Bill movie played like a Japanese anime, this installment is more like a Hong Kong kung fu movie. It worked splendidly. Less violent and more character-driven, this film wraps up all of the loose ends of the first one and does so in a characteristically Tarantino way. Say what you want about him, the man is a master of manipulating an audience; parts of the movie had me holding my breath. If the movie has a flaw, I'd have to say it was Uma Thurman. I know other people disagree with me, especially with respect to these films, but I've never seen Thurman forget that she was acting. Even so, the movie is good enough to get around Thurman's performance.

Viewed: 4/15/2004 | Released: 4/15/2004 | Score: A

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The Girl Next Door

The first question I have about this movie is: who did the filmmakers intend to see it? I mean, the plot is a reasonably typical teen story, but the R rating guarantees that it will not bring in many from that age group. The producers had better hope that there will be enough twenty-somethings interested. In any case, despite the fact that the story had some pretty glaring structural flaws and there were details about the movie that bothered me, it still managed to pull out some moments that I really found touching. I think that Emile Hirsch (also of The Emperor's Club) may be one to keep an eye on in the future. All in all, not a great movie, but it made for an entertaining evening.

Viewed: 4/8/2004 | Released: 2/17/2004 | Score: C

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