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13 Going on 30 (2004)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/20/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video:
Audio: 1/2
Extras:

Review by Mike Long, Posted in 2/17/2009

As with many critics, I often accuse Hollywood of being bereft of original ideas and state that many films are merely recycled tidbits from other movies. However, just like recycling aluminum cans and plastic bottles can be good, sometimes using an old idea isn't a bad thing, especially if a new twist can be added to that idea. At first glance, the Jennifer Garner vehicle 13 Going on 30 may seem like nothing more than a female version of the 1988 Tom Hanks hit Big. However, the movie does add some different devices to that tale and emerges as a fun romp.

As 13 Going on 30 opens, we meet Jenna Rink (played by Christa B. Allen). Jenna is a decidedly average 13-year old girl, who longs to be a part of the popular group of girls (a 1/2 dozen teenage divas known as "The Six Chicks"). But, she's also happy doing things with her best friend Matt (played by Sean Marquette), a boy who is definitely outside of the mainstream. Jenna's prospects for popularity seem to be looking up as Tom-Tom (played by Alexandra Kyle), the leader of "The Six Chicks", agrees that she and her group will attend Jenna's 13th birthday party. But, things don't go as planned, as it's revealed that Tom-Tom and her friends only want to use Jenna to do their homework. Obviously, this upsets Jenna and she begins to wish that she was 30 years old, while, unbeknownst to her, she is being sprinkled with the "Wishing Dust" that Matt gave her as a birthday present.

When Jenna (now played by Jennifer Garner) wakes up, she finds herself in a strange apartment with a strange man (Samuel Ball). As if that weren't bad enough, Jenna is now in the body of a 30-year old woman. Jenna quickly learns that she is an editor for "Poise" magazine (which was her favorite magazine as a teenager) and that she's now best friends with her co-worker Tom-Tom (now played by Judy Greer), who now goes by her real name Lucy. Confused by her frantic situation, Jenna seeks out her true best friend, Matt (now played by Mark Ruffalo). When she finds Matt, he can't believe what he's seeing, as he and Jenna grew apart in high school and haven't seen each other in 12 years. As Jenna learns more about herself, she quickly realizes that she doesn't like the person that she's become and sets out to correct her flaws.

Whereas Big is about a boy who suddenly has the appearance of a man while maintaining the personality and thoughts of a boy, 13 Going on 30 has more of a time-travel concept, as the 13-year old Jenna suddenly finds herself inhabiting the body of the 30-year old Jenna, and must deal with all of the lifestyle choices which this older Jenna has made over the last 17 years. Thus we have the initial dilemma of Jenna waking up to find herself in a strange time and place compounded with the existential problem of Jenna finding herself to be morally questionable as an adult. Along with these semi-serious questions, 13 Going on 30 adds a good deal of goofy comedy, as the young Jenna attempts to adjust to her new adult body. And the relationship between Jenna and Matt, both as kids and adults, is very intriguing and we truly want to see them together.

Jennifer Garner, who is best known for the action/drama TV series Alias, shows that she can play comedy as well in 13 Going on 30. She is able to channel the energy and exuberance of a 13-year old girl and makes us believe that she is an innocent in a grown-up world. In an odd twist, she dresses in a very sexy and mature fashion, but maintains that young girl vibe. Mark Ruffalo, who is also known for more dramatic work, is good as Matt, as his laid-back and casual attitude is a perfect match for Garnerís energy. Andy Serkis, Gollum from The Lord of the Rings films steals the film as Jennaís uptight boss. 13 Going on 30 is by no means a perfect film, as it rarely transcends the boundaries of the typical Hollywood romance, but director Gary Winick lends an air of believability to this fairy tale. 13 Going on 30 is an above average chick flick which will appeal to anyone who felt awkward as a teenager...and who didnít?

13 Going on 30 sprouts onto
Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc offers an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, but it does show a slight amount of grain. There are no noticeable defects from the source material. The colors look good, and the image shows the appropriate amount of brightness. However, the picture is somewhat flat and the skintones look waxy in some shots. The Disc provides a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get some very nice stereo effects here, especially during the big party scene. The surround sound during this scene is notably good as well. The in-film music provides nice subwoofer action. The stereo effects also play well during some of the office scenes and they show off good stereo separation.

The Blu-ray Disc of 13 Going on 30 carries many extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Gary Winick. This has to be one of the worst commentaries that I've heard in a long time, as Winick whines throughout the entire film. He complains about how making 13 Going on 30 was so much different from his independent film background and how he had to do certain things that were Hollywood standards. Look buddy, you're getting paid to make movies and you've made a pretty good one, so stop the complaining! You're much better off with the other audio commentary, which features producers Gina Matthews, Susan Arnold, and Donna Arkoff Roth. This chat is much more laid back and entertaining. The three women talk about the film's production, most notably shooting in New York, and they also discuss the script and actors. In addition, they talk about how they relate to Jenna's character and what the 80s were like for them.

The Disc contains 18 deleted and extended scenes, which can be viewed individually, or all at once with the "Play All" feature. These scenes don't introduce any new plot points, but they do have some good laughs, and show off more of Garner's ability to do physical comedy, especially in the doctor's office scene. "Making a Teen Dream" is a 19-minute featurette which examines the making of 13 Going on 30 through comments from Garner, Ruffalo, Winick, Greer, and more, plus a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage. In "I Was a Teenage Geek" (8 minutes), Garner, Ruffalo, Greer, and Ball shares stories and pictures about their awkward adolescent years. Some of those pictures are scary. There is a 3-minute blooper reel which has one great flub from Garner. We also get two classic music videos, "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar, and "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield. (Watch them back-to-back and compare the production values.) "Making of a Teen Dream: Another Take" (8 minutes) is driven by comments from the Producers Donna Roth and Susan Arnold. It looks at the film's story, but it mainly focuses on the work of Jennifer Garner. "Alternate Beginning & Alternate Ending" (12 minutes) is way alternate, as it features totally different actors playing young Jenna and Young Matt in the alternate beginning. This looks more like test footage than the actual movie. The alternate ending then includes these same actors. The extras are rounded out by a still gallery.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long