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The sometimes mushy Tiger Eyes is still a respectable coming-of-age tale

Treating teenage growing pains with a sensitivity that frequently trips into singer-songwriter-ish mushiness, Tiger Eyes nonetheless stands as a respectable first cinematic adaptation of a Judy Blume novel. Directed and co-written by the author's son, Lawrence, Blume's tale follows fifteen-year-old Davey (Willa Holland, right) as she relocates, in the wake of her father's murder, from Atlantic City to New Mexico with her grieving-mess mother (Amy Jo Johnson) and younger brother in order to live with a pushy aunt (Cynthia Stevenson) and judgmental uncle (Forrest Fyre). Struggling to fit in at school, Davey finds solace climbing in the mountains with Native American hunk Wolf (Tatanka Means), whose father is the dying patient whom Davey befriends while volunteering at the local hospital and who teaches her how to accept death as a natural part of life. Every relationship, including Davey's bond with an alcoholic classmate, is custom-designed to further her coming of age, though the material's transparency is less problematic than a third act in which key characters, for no discernible reason except plot expediency, suddenly stop behaving inappropriately and begin acting helpful and nurturing for Davey's sake. Still, awash in twisted ankles, fatal gunshots, and talk of Los Alamos's nuclear-bomb history, it remains an engaging (if somewhat slender) portrait of the violence of adolescent maturation.

 
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