The umpteenth take on the tale of someone being magically made young or old has been digested and regurgitated with Zac Efron playing the less negative, teenaged version of Matthew Perry, who's sent back in age to get closer to his kids after his high-school-sweetheart wife (a wasted Leslie Mann) files for divorce.
Efforts to generate laughter are strained, and though tween girls may thrill at another 90 minutes of Efron, they'll have more fun renting 13 Going on 30. Grade: D
"Anvil! The Story of Anvil"
The comparison between This is Spinal Tap and Sacha Gervasi's documentary on '80s heavy metal should-have-beens Anvil is inevitable, given a laughably botched tour and a trip to Stonehenge.
But while laughs are plentiful in the new film, what's more unexpected is how moving Anvil's story is. Gervasi celebrates their endless optimism, and the results are as infectious as the goofy grin of lead singer Steve "Lips" Kudlow. One of the funniest, sweetest docs of the year, and it goes to 11. Grade: A-
"Battle for Terra"
Touching on topics ranging from the environment to the nature of humanity, this independently produced sci-fi feature isn't the most kid-friendly animation out there. And its story of the friendship that develops between a Terran native (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) and an invading human (Luke Wilson) isn't without its snags, but its lush visuals make it a joy for adult animation fans. Grade: B-
"Beauty in Trouble"
At the center of Jan Hrebejk's story is Marcela (Anna Geislerova), a young, vivacious mother of two who leaves her loutish husband despite their white-hot sexual chemistry. When he's arrested for theft and she catches the eye of the incredibly kind older man he stole from, Marcela's faced with a clear-cut romantic choice between one man who's almost all wrong for her and another who's almost too good to be true.
Each supporting character is painted in fairly broad strokes, but Marcela is a mass of interesting contradictions, and there's a distinctive pleasure in watching Hrebejk play these qualities through to the very last shot. Grade: B
"Ghosts of Girlfriends Past"
In Mark Waters' romantic comedy, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol comes together with Matthew McConaughey playing another in a series of charming rogues, and neither is done any favors. The script offers a different but still predictable take on the source and a particularly unsavory, misogynistic version of the star's stock character. Grade: C-
"Is Anybody There?"
Its tale of life lessons passed from the elderly to the young is predictable and populated with some annoyingly eccentric oldsters. But this quiet British import about an unlikely friendship between a death-obsessed boy (Son of Rambow's Bill Milner) and the aging magician (Michael Caine) who's the newest resident of his parents' retirement home manages to be endearing, thanks to engaging performances from a surly Caine and the precocious Milner. Grade: B
"Next Day Air"
It's one thing to make a movie for stoners, another to make one that feels like everyone behind the scenes was constantly on the chronic. There's a strong whiff of that in director Benny Boom's feature debut, an ensemble comedy about drug deals and package deliveries gone wrong.
Boom aims for Guy Ritchie's kinetic style and his balance of funny and grisly, but twists are few, energy saps quickly and gallows humor falls flat. Even Mos Def is wasted shamefully. The whole thing is just half-assed. Grade: D+
Ripped from the pages of Fatal Attraction, Steve Shill's thriller follows seemingly perfect couple Idris Elba and Beyonce Knowles as their relationship is tested by an insane office temp (Ali Larter) who puts the faithful, stand-up husband and new father "in her crosshairs." Its trashiness can be good and laughable at times, but the movie is less steamy than expected and yet it still make you feel like you need a shower afterward. Grade: D+
For his first American production, British director Joe Wright (Atonement) chooses the truth-based story of the difficult friendship that develops between L.A. Times writer Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) and homeless, mentally ill cellist Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx). While the movie wins points for trying to keep things real regarding Ayers' illness, it loses some for a contrived subplot involving the writer's ex-wife. Grade: B-
Look out, Wolverine. This summer, the new Star Trek is the origins story to beat. From its explosive start on the day of James T. Kirk's birth, J.J. Abrams' prequel to the evergreen sci-fi franchise is fine, absorbing entertainment.
Within its smart script, tight pacing and strong emotional center is a respect for what's kept Star Trek fans devoted for so long. Primarily, that would be the crew, which has been perfectly recast to maintain a hint of previous character incarnations without leaning on mimicry - except when it's good for a well-timed laugh. Grade: A-
"State of Play"
The latest drama from The Last King of Scotland's Kevin Macdonald is smart, mostly solid entertainment. Tracking Russell Crowe's old-school print journalist as he's forced to work with blogger Rachel McAdams on a story tying a double murder to a Congressional scandal, the film unleashes a healthy dose of plot twists and some timely points about the crumbling of the Fourth Estate. Grade: B
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine"
This superhero movie has plenty of talent behind it, between Oscar-winning director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi), star Hugh Jackman and co-stars Liev Schreiber and Danny Huston. Yet it doesn't get your blood pumping much faster than the lackluster X-Men: The Last Stand. Blame too much convoluted exposition and too few scenes of Wolverine going berserker. Grade: C
The metal heads of Anvil, the subject of Anvil! The Story of Anvil, stopped by Landmark's Gateway Theater for a live set last weekend. See our exclusive video and interview with the band at ColumbusAlive.com.
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