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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2004
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Reel View
By Nicole Shelton and Laurie Davis

Fantasy appeals to young women; fairy tale attracts tweens

In "13 going on 30," opening Friday, Jenna Rink is, by her own standards, a late bloomer.

The year is 1987, and Jenna doesn't want to be a dorky child any longer than she has to be. On her 13th birthday, more desperate than ever to be part of the "in-group" at school, she invites all of the popular students to her birthday party.

Soon after the gang's arrival, guests humiliate Jenna, along with best friend and next-door-neighbor Matt, and leave her alone in a closet. Blaming Matt, even after he has brought her a thoughtful gift and a pack of "wishing" dust, she tells him to get out of her life forever. You can imagine what happens next.

Zoom ahead 17 years, and it's 2004. A fully grown Jenna, played by Jennifer Garner, awakens to find she is a 30-year-old woman and the cutthroat editor of her favorite fashion magazine. It doesn't take her long to realize that she has not grown into the kind of person she would like to be. She sets out to right the wrongs of the last 17 years. When she learns that she no longer keeps in touch with her childhood friend Matt, played by Mark Ruffalo, she tries to find him to help her piece her life back together.

Reel View: "13 going on 30" is light and entertaining. I would recommend this movie to Jennifer Garner fans. It would appeal more to a 30-year-old woman who remembers what 13 was like than it would to 13-year-olds. The movie is rated PG-13 for some mild, sexual situations.

— Nicole Shelton

"Ella Enchanted," based on an award-winning book by Gail Carson Levine, comes to the big screen as part "Cinderella," part "Shrek" and part "Princess Bride." Anne Hathaway ("Princess Diaries") stars as Ella who is cursed as a baby by her fairy godmother Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox) with the gift of obedience.

Whenever someone tells her to do something, she must do it. This becomes problematic as she gets older and two ugly stepsisters enter her life. She soon meets Prince Charmont (Hugh Dancy), whom she scolds for discriminating against ogres and elves in the kingdom. The na 1/3ve and beautiful prince is hooked from the first berating. However, the prince's evil uncle (think "Hamlet") commands Ella to kill the prince at midnight. Thereafter, she desperately searches for her godmother to reverse the spell.

My fourth-grader and her friends loved "Ella Enchanted." To me, it seemed stale and awkward at times.

The script consisted of a series of cut-and-paste clips from top tales mixed together in a patchwork, making it stale. Random insertions of rock music and dance routines that didn't seem to fit made it awkward.

I'm sure children will love it, but it won't make the parent/child must-have list of movies it attempts to imitate or pirate.

Radiant and smiling from ear to ear, Anne Hathaway carries the movie. The supporting characters are hit and miss. Minnie Driver is an underused hit. Model Heidi Klum is a giant miss.

"Ella Enchanted" is rated PG for crude humor and mild language. The crude humor consists of a male ogre's butt showing and the mild language is one "Oh, my God."

Reel View: The target audience of tween girls is sure to be entertained and enchanted. Parents, however, will hesitate to add "Ella Enchanted" to their video collection.

— Laurie Davis

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