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Boston Idol
Blutwurst
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Since: 17.2.03
From: San Jose, CA

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#1 Posted on 17.5.04 0956.53
Reposted on: 17.5.11 0957.01
Perhaps it should be a requirement that
audiences watch five minutes of a truly
horrid movie before a decent movie starts
so that they can appreciate the difference.
My friend Alma and I arrived a bit early,
or a bit late, depending on what movie we
decided to see. We had both been intrigued
by the trailer for "Godsend", but I had
been warned off by many bad reviews.

In fact, rottentomatoes.com had tracked
only three positive reviews for "Godsend"
against over a hundred negative reviews.
With charming Greg Kinnear, comely Rebecca
Romijn, legendary Robert De Niro, and what
seemed like an interestingly creepy plot,
it couldn't possibly be that bad.

But it was that bad... maybe even worse.

As we walked in, Rebecca witnessed the
death of her young son who was hit by
a car. Moments later we saw a chipper
Greg returning to a dark home and calling
out to his family while a light on the
answering machine flashed ominously in
the foreground. Kinnear played the
message which got as far as his name
before the scene trailed off. Next we
saw Kinnear curling up on the floor in
anguish, again with no words. Next we
saw the couple at a church. Snow was
falling, indicating death. Someone,
it wasn't important, told Kinnear that
he would handle the funeral arrangements.
Apparently the Church was a mortuary.

Robert De Niro approached the couple and
introduced himself. Kinnear told him
that this wasn't a good time, but they
listened anyway. They went to a nearby
restaurant to talk. Kinnear got angry
but made no attempt to leave. De Niro
offered to clone their dead son and in
the process revealed that he had already
pried into Rebecca's medical records.

The couple was shocked, but still made
no attempt to leave. It was implausible,
but at least there was some dialog in
this scene, though lines like "there's
no easy way to say this so I'm just
going to say it" aren't much comfort.

Rebecca was interested, but Kinnear was
opposed. Kinnear then watched some old
movies on his computer and apparently
changed his mind, though all we got was
a shot of him handing the telephone to
Rebecca in another telepathic exchange.

A De Niro voice over indicated that they
would have to sever all contact with their
families, but since no one came to the
church cum funeral home with them earlier
this seemed like a fairly simple task.

At that point we decided we still had
time for "plan B" and walked out. My
advice is that no matter how interesting
the premise sounds, "Godsend" is not an
interesting movie. It is like a comic
book filled with empty dialog balloons.

My second choice, much to Alma's surprise,
was "13 Going On 30" starring Jennifer
Garner in what appeared to be the latest
variation on the "Freaky Friday/Big"
storyline where a child ends up in an
adult body and hilarity naturally ensues.

On any other day I might have dismissed
"13 Going On 30" as a decent collection
of the usual cliches, but on the heels
of the unspeakable horror of "Godsend"
mere dialog became a welcome relief.

The movie is helped greatly by the
infectious charm of its cast including
Jennifer Garner as the 30-year-old with
a 13-year-old inside and Mark Ruffalo
as the good friend she cruely tossed
aside at thirteen who is too nice and
still likes her too much to just blow
her off in her hour of need.

The movie opens with a young version
of Garner getting ready for her 13th
birthday party where she hopes to make
a good impression on the in-crowd of
girls and a certain hunk, possibly at
the expense of a young version of Mark.

After being humiliated by the in-crowd,
Jenna spurns her friend and wishes that
she was already "thirty, flirty, and
thriving." Moments later she wakes up
in the body of Jennifer Garner as the
editor of a top magazine in Manhattan.

We quickly discover that success is not
all it's cracked up to be. She is not
well liked professionally. She fired
her secretary a day earlier and she is
having an affair with the husband of
one of her co-workers. Another of her
co-workers is one of the in-crowd that
humiliated her years earlier, in fact
the former ringleader of the group.

Through her plucky new, insecure, but
blossoming secretary she reconnects
with her childhood friend Matt, played
by Mark Ruffalo, and starts to piece
together the choices she made years
ago that brought her to this place.

At this point the movie had the chance
to become a psychological thriller in
the tradition of "The Prisoner" where
the experience was playing out in her
mind or perhaps where she suffered a
breakdown at 30 which caused her psyche
to revert to 13 in hopes of changing
the course of her life to arrive at
a better destination. Unfortunately
all we get is another convenient shot
of magic "wishing" dust at the end to
lead directly to the desired finish.

Perhaps having not seen "Big" (I hate
Tom Hanks and wish him ill) or the
regurgitation of "Freaky Friday" (it
was a b-movie when I was a kid), I
found the idea of wanting to move
ahead or backward within the timeline
of one's own life more intriguing
than what I was watching on screen.

"13 Going On 30" didn't aspire to much
depth, but it delivered some laughs and
a few poignant if overly familiar moments
with a cast that was pleasant to watch.
On the heels of the abysmal "Godsend",
it couldn't help but be entertaining.

Frank
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