After getting a big break with Alias, a J.J. Abrams-created TV show that ran for five seasons, Jennifer Garner has acted consistently ever since – largely in meaningless rom-coms and rarely as a lead, but still. They’re bigger roles than before Alias happened and she’s garnered (ha) a large fanbase ever since.
Here are the top 10 movies from the career of Jennifer Garner.
13 Going on 30
13 Going on 30 does the Big thing but gender-swaps the leads. It stars Garner as a woman who has the mind of a girl – since the girl wishes she could be 30, not 13. The film starts out interesting enough, as we get to see the “adult world” through the eyes of a 13-year-old, which provides some fresh insight into it. It’s got some laughs and some decent acting, too. It devolves into a pretty generic rom-com by its conclusion, but it’s earned enough goodwill by that point to not be too detrimental.
Arthur is a surprisingly sweet movie about a money-wasting alcoholic in denial about both his money wasting and alcoholism. It’s about a rich man-child having to grow up and find love, and maybe even learn what it’s like to be poor. It’s a little long and a little lacking in laughs, but for what it is, it’s a pretty decent remake of the Dudley Moore original.
Butter is an ensemble movie about competitive butter sculpting and the politics that surround it. It’s a satirical political allegory that the internet purports it to be about the 2008 Democratic primaries, but feels broad enough to work for just about every type of main election, too. What that means is many of the characters wind up stereotypical in order to fit a certain mold. That doesn’t stop it from being fun or funny. And the butter sculptures are really pretty to look at, so it’s got that going for it, too.
I don’t like watching trailers. Not only do they give you certain expectations about a movie, but they’re often misleading or filled with spoilers. Comedy trailers usually have some of the best jokes, superhero trailers can ruin important moments, and trailers try sometimes make dramas look like thrillers or vice versa. And sometimes they make a good movie seem bad or a bad movie seem good.
I bring that up because Danny Collins did not have a great trailer. It looks like middle-of-the-road schmaltz. And while it’s true that it very much feels like a film you’ve seen before, it tells its story in a heartfelt and funny way, and gives Al Pacino one of his best roles in the later stage of his career.
Draft Day is the Moneyball of football movies, except that it’s not as good as Moneyball and takes place over a significantly shorter period of time. It’s about the general manager of the Cleveland Browns trying to figure out how to make his team as good as it can using his seventh overall pick. He’s also got other, more personal things on his mind. It does a good job of making us feel like we’re in the Browns’ front office, and explains what’s happening in terms that non-fans can understand. It’s got the time-sensitive plot of a thriller and the personal baggage of a drama. It doesn’t quite mesh all the way, but it’s pretty solid.
Dude, Where’s My Car?
While Jennifer Garner admittedly doesn’t have a big role in Dude, Where’s My Car?, I wanted to include it for a couple of reasons. (1) It’s in her top 10 films, so it fits on the list anyway. (2) I can mention how this is The Hangover, but better.
Because it’s definitely The Hangover but better.
Same plot, slightly different comedy – stoner comedy as opposed to we’re-all-idiots comedy – tighter story, more interesting characters, and much more pleasant. And its finale isn’t as bad. The Hangover sucks, is my point.
I welcome your hate in the comments, die-hard Hangover fans.
Before Wonder Woman (and after Catwoman) blew away all expectations, Elektra was released and didn’t do that, but is still the kind of campy superhero movie that one can have fun with in the right mindset. It’s a spin-off from Daredevil and stars Jennifer Garner as the assassin protagonist. She’s tasked with killing a girl, winds up developing feelings for her and has to protect her from evil. It’s not great and hasn’t aged well in the post-MCU world in which we live, but if you like campy superhero movies like Spawn, it’s worth checking out some time.
The Invention of Lying
The Invention of Lying takes place in an alternative reality in which everyone tells the truth, all the time. As such, everyone believes every word that everyone else says. Then a man figures out that, huh, you can not tell the truth and use that power to become insanely powerful. It’s a clever comedy for a while until it devolves into Ricky Gervais ranting about religion for a too-long period of time. But it does have some laughs and some solid acting.
Juno sees a teenager get pregnant and then have to figure out what the next step is over the course of the next several months. She meets with adoptive parents – of whom Garner is one – she has to deal with the father, who wants nothing to do with it, as well as come clean to her parents. It’s a good movie. I don’t think it’s as funny as many people – its dialogue gets a little irritating, honestly, although I guess it’s how teenagers talk, mostly – but the drama is solid and the characters are strong.
The Kingdom has a great third act. It’s very entertaining, and if you make it that far you will be rewarded. Its problem is that the first two acts are a little dull, a little hard to follow, and shot with a camera that’s being constantly being moved and jerked in a way that makes you wonder what exactly the filmmakers are doing. Still, it all eventually pays off and becomes worthwhile.