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13 Going on 30 (2004)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/20/2009
All Ratings out of
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
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
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long