“Alias” star Jennifer Garner goes big in her first starring role in a comedy, and it pays off big-time, in her winning performance as an awkward 13-year-old girl who yearns for adulthood and is transported to her future as a 30-year-old woman.

Comparisons to “Big” are inevitable (and there are a couple of nods to that 1988 movie) and Garner accomplishes something that Tom Hanks did, too: She truly makes you believe you’re watching a child inside the body of an adult. It’s a joy to watch her smile and have fun with physical comedy.

But this teen-girl fantasy also has some sweet, poignant moments, too, especially with Mark Ruffalo who plays a grown-up version of the geeky boy next door she jilted as a child.

PG-13 for some sexual content and brief drug references. 97 min. Three stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Entertainment Writer



“I’m Not Scared” – It’s summer in the harsh plains of southern Italy, where a brutal sun beats down on endless corn fields. Children from the village ride rickety bikes into the golden expanse, inventing daredevil games to while away the lazy afternoons. Thus begins “I’m Not Scared,” looking for all the world like a feel-good movie with lush cinematography and adorable Italian kids. But then this new effort from Gabriele Salvatores, who directed the enchanting “Mediterraneo” a decade ago, takes a sudden dark swerve. Ten-year-old Michele discovers a squalid hidden pit. Inside, a small boy is held captive. The film follows Michele’s gradual discovery of a kidnapping plot hatched, to his horror, by his parents and their friends. To its credit, it doesn’t sink into melodrama, and the relationships and characters are complex enough to keep us guessing until the end. R for strong language and violence. In Italian with English subtitles. 101 min. Three stars out of four.

– Jocelyn Noveck, AP Writer



“Man on Fire” – Apparently, a kidnapping involving the young daughter of a wealthy Mexico City couple, and the subsequent rampage of vigilante justice on which her guilt-ridden bodyguard embarks, aren’t dramatic enough. Director Tony Scott feels the need to pound us over the head with hyperstylized visual tricks and heavy religious symbolism. Before the actual kidnapping takes place, Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning strike a surprisingly sweet friendship as brooding, taciturn protector and perky, inquisitive protectee. The twists and double-crosses in Brian Helgeland’s script, adapted from A.J. Quinnell’s novel, aren’t terribly hard to figure out and it takes too long to get to them. But the creatively sadistic torture tactics that Washington’s character favors at least provide an amusing distraction. R for language and strong violence. 142 min. Two stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Entertainment Writer

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