13 Going on 30


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Jennifer Garner as Jenna Rink
Mark Ruffalo as Matt Flamhaff
Judy Greer as Lucy
Andy Serkis as Richard
Shana Dowdeswell as Young Jenna Rink
Jack Salvatore Jr. as Young Matt
Kathy Baker as Beverly Rink
Phil Reeves as Wayne Rink
Alex Black as Young Christopher Grandy
Alexandra Kyle as Young Tom-Tom

Jennifer Garner shows a knack for comedy in “13 Going On 30”. While it’s predictable and spoiled by the trailers, it’s still a decent date movie.

In 1987, Jenna Rink is a 13-year-old girl who longs to be one of the cool kids. Despite reassurances from her geeky best friend Matt (who also has a big crush on her), Jenna still wants to be part of the “Six Chicks” led by Lucy. When Jenna is thoroughly embarrassed at her birthday party by Lucy, she instead blames Matt for everything. She also desperately wishes that she were 30 since she thinks that’s the time when she’ll be most carefree. Thanks to some “wishing dust”, Jenna gets her wish.

She wakes up in 2004 in the middle of her future life. Initially terrified, Jenna soon discovers that she and Lucy are now best friends and co-editors of a major fashion magazine. Jenna is now rich, has a sports star boyfriend, and has everything that she ever wanted. Unfortunately, she has paid the price for it. Jenna discovers that she has also alienated her family, become a first class snob, cheated at work, and cut all ties to her friend Matt.

When she tracks down the now adult Matt, she finds that he is not so geeky anymore. Jenna also finds out that she’s in love with Matt. Unfortunately, he’s now engaged to be married. Can the 13-year-old Jenna put her adult life back in order before she loses what she really wanted in life?

“13 Going On 30” is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and brief drug references.

What Worked:
If you liked Big, you’ll probably like “13 Going On 30”. While this film isn’t as good as the Tom Hanks classic, it has a similar story and offers up a number of laughs. The main twist is that 13-year-old Jenna sees what her future life is like rather than simply waking up in her current life with the body of a 30 year old.

“13 Going On 30” is definitely a chick flick. Women and girls are going to enjoy this film a lot more than guys. Women that grew up in the 80’s will enjoy it even more because they not only identify with Jenna’s 30 year old lifestyle, but they also identify with all of the 80’s fashions, music, and references. Despite it being a chick flick, guys will enjoy it because they get to watch Jennifer Garner for an hour and a half. (Just kidding!) It ends up having a little something for everyone and it’s a decent date movie.

“13 Going On 30” has a good message underneath it all. It shows how bad friends corrupt good character. We see how Jenna sacrifices everything that was good in her life in order to get what she wants and to be cool. She trades love, honor, integrity, and family in for fame, success, and fortune. It’s good to show young kids how choices early in life can have long term impacts.

Moral lessons aside, the film is funny, too. Unfortunately, most of the funniest moments are shown in the trailer. One scene features the characters dancing to “Thriller” at a party. I don’t like Michael Jackson and the scene looked cheesy in the trailers, but it worked in the movie. And when Andy Serkis (aka Gollum) jumps in and dances with Garner, it becomes even more amusing. Other funny scene includes Jenna trying to avoid her amorous jock boyfriend (also seen in the trailer).

This is a very different role for Jennifer Garner who breaks away from her typical action persona. She proves in this film that she can do comedy, too. Some of her best scenes are when she plays the panicky 13-year-old girl trying to figure out what’s going on. While Garner unfortunately resorts to pratfalls for a few laughs, she more than makes up for it in other scenes. I’d like to see Garner in some other comedy roles with a better script.

Most of the supporting cast doesn’t have much to do since Garner is in the spotlight. Mark Ruffalo is quiet and understated as the adult Matt. Andy Serkis is barely in the film as the flamboyant Richard, but when he does appear he steals his scenes. Shana Dowdeswell is also an impressively close match to Jennifer Garner as young Jenna Rink.

The soundtrack is mostly a fun mix of 80’s music. If you grew up in that era like I did you’ll probably find it a great retrospective.

What Didn’t Work:
The main problem with “13 Going On 30” is that it is predictable. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen most of the film. Even if you haven’t seen the trailers, you can pretty much guess what will happen in the movie. The whole plot is very much by the numbers. It won’t help matters that the concept has been done before and better by “Big”. the trailers ruin most of the jokes as well. They feature the funniest scenes and the rest of the film doesn’t offer much more than little chuckles.

The film is also incredibly sappy at a few points. For example, young Matt makes Jenna a pink dream dollhouse for her 13th birthday. While it drew oohs and aahs from the women in the audience, I can’t think of any self respecting heterosexual 13-year-old boy who would do such a thing, even if she would grow up to be Jennifer Garner. There’s also some sort of infatuation with Razzles throughout the film. Throw in a dance number featuring “Love Is A Battlefield” with Garner and some teens and you have a real cheese-fest.

The Bottom Line:
Despite being predictable and having an unoriginal concept, “13 Going On 30” is still a decent date movie worth checking out at some point either on the big screen or as a renter.