13 GOING ON 30 (PG-13) Tempting as it is to call this Big for girls, it's even more accurate to dub the movie Big minus brains. 13 Going on 30 is about an insecure 13-year-old girl who makes a wish in 1987 and wakes up in 2004 as leggy, 30-year-old Jennifer Garner, a successful but emotionally unfulfilled career woman. All the anticipated and all-but obligatory jokes are here ("Wow," says Garner's character, "I've got boobs!"), and the movie does little to disguise its myriad cliches or blatant attempts to manipulate our emotions. Garner is an enormously appealing screen presence, but virtually everything that surrounds her here is a chore to sit through. The director is Gary Winick, whose previous film was the ridiculously overrated but marginally more interesting Tadpole. Also stars Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer and Andy Serkis. 1/2
BON VOYAGE (PG-13) A grand Gallic farce that offers plenty of glossy amusements, despite being overstuffed with way too many characters doing way too many things. Bon Voyage is pure escapism set against a backdrop of impending war, with an ensemble of movie stars, politicians, scientists, spies, writers, criminals and just-plain Joe's scrambling about pre-WWII France in a plot that involves murder, romance, stolen secrets and more. None of it's meant to be taken too seriously, though, and there's ultimately little in this big, sprawling, handsome production that really sticks to the ribs. Stars Isabelle Adjani, Gerard Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen and Peter Coyote.
BREAKIN' ALL THE RULES This movie is all about frustration. It's what you feel after you leave the theater. A predictable romantic comedy about a writer named Quincy Watson (Jamie Foxx) who accidentally falls in love with his cousin Evan's (Morris Chestnut) girlfriend, Nikki (Gabrielle Union), Breakin' All the Rules barrels along at breakneck speed — a pithy hour and 20 minutes — leaving little time for character development. Worse, the movie frequently lacks even minimal psychological plausibility — as with the unlikely tie between Evan and Nikki. The on-screen chemistry between Quincy and Nikki glitters, but Evan's inability to stay away from a tainted temptress (Jennifer Esposito) drives a plot based on misunderstandings to a conventional ending. A flat-lined comedy, Breakin' all the Rules does anything but. Also stars Peter MacNicol.
THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK (PG-13) A sequel of sorts to Pitch Black, in which Vin Diesel's self-serving, intergalactic bad-ass Riddick returns to find himself pitted against the Negromongers, a group of death-worshiping religious warriors going from planet to planet demanding "Convert or Die." Director David Twohy (The Arrival) might be offering up some thinly veiled allusion to the ongoing Islamist problem (or maybe he's just riffing on the Borg), but the movie has New Testament connections too, with Diesel's character eventually being set up as some sort of reluctant Messianic figure. All of this is just window dressing, however, for the movie's incessant action scenes, fights, chases and explosions, not to mention the non-stop digital effects, and sets and costumes directly lifted from David Lynch's Dune. One gets the impression that much of the movie's connective tissue, its actual story, now lies on the cutting-room floor, leaving us with a slightly better-than-average popcorn movie stripped down for the summer. It's a no-brainer that the real show will be the longer, director's cut that's sure to eventually emerge on DVD, so consider this an appetizer (at best). Also stars Colm Feore, Judi Dench, Thandie Newton and Alexa Davalos. Opens June 11 at local theaters.
DAWN OF THE DEAD (R) One might ponder the reasons for remaking George Romero's nearly perfect horror classic, but, hey — the bottom line is that you can never have too many zombie movies. Actually, the word "zombie" is never even uttered in the 2004 version, and the creatures themselves more closely resemble the shrieking sprinters of 28 Days than the lumbering icons from Romero's original. Also missing in action are the original's famous images of the living dead strolling about the shopping mall where our heroes are trapped, or any other swipes at our happily zombified consumer culture. What we get instead is a competent but much more conventional thrill machine, filled with a steady stream of decent scares and even more flying hunks of bloody flesh than you'll see in Mel's Passion. Stars Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer and Ty Burrell.
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (PG-13) Basically, what we have here is a very expensive, two-hour commercial for electric cars. Having built a career on destroying the world (by, among other things, aliens in Indpendence Day and giant lizards in Godzilla), Roland Emmerich is up to his old tricks again. This time, however, we've only got ourselves to blame, as global warming and an out-of-control greenhouse effect create a new Ice Age, making life very difficult for a courageous scientist (Dennis Quaid) and his dreamboat son (Jake Gyllenhaal), not to mention a couple billion bit players. The movie's first hour is a straightforward eco-disaster movie featuring scads of massively proportioned, apocalyptic imagery and peppered with a few subversive winks (the Hollywood sign is destroyed, and a bus falls on a Porsche). The movie's second half prompts more than its share of unintentional laughter, though, with bland heroics, wooden dialogue and every cliche in the book taking center stage. For a movie about the end of the world, this winds up being pretty routine stuff. Also stars Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum and Sela Ward.