Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Thirteen

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
3 out of 10
Extras Rating:
4 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: R

Starring:
Evan Rachel Wood as Tracy Freeland
Nikki Reed as Evie Zamora
Holly Hunter as Melanie 'Mel' Freeland
Jeremy Sisto as Brady
Brady Corbet as Mason Freeland
Deborah Unger as Brooke
Kip Pardue as Luke
Sarah Clarke as Birdie
Vanessa Anne Hudgens as Noel
Ulysses Estrada as Rafa
Sarah Cartwright as Medina
Jenicka Carey as Astrid
Jasmine Salim as Kayla
Tessa Ludwick as Yumi
CeCe Tsou as Businesswoman
Jamison Yang as Science Teacher
Frank Merino as Tattoo Artist
Cynthia Ettinger as Cynthia
Charles Duckworth as Javi

Special Features:
Commentary by director/co-writer Catherine Hardwicke, co-writer/actor Nikki Reed, and actors Evan Rachel Wood and Brady Corbet

Theatrical trailer

10 deleted scenes with commentary

Making-of featurette

Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Full Screen (1.33:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Soundtrack
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 99 Minutes

Synopsis:
Tracy Freeland is a promising young thirteen year old who comes from a broken family. She lives with her brother and mother, Melanie, who is barely getting them to scrape by financially. Despite this, Melanie does her best to be a generous and cool parent.

As Tracy starts school, she meets Evie Zamora, the coolest kid in school. Desperate to be cool and popular, Tracy starts following Evie around and they eventually become friends. Unfortunately, Evie proves to be a very bad influence. She leads Tracy into shoplifting, then drinking, then drugs, then sex. Tracy becomes increasingly violent and even begins self-mutilation. As she spirals completely out of control, her mother tries desperately to reconnect with her daughter and set her on the right path again.

Thirteen is rated R for drug use, self destructive violence, language and sexuality - all involving young teens.

The Movie:
If your idea of entertainment is seeing a promising, pretty young teen slowly destroy herself, then Thirteen is for you. Unfortunately, it wasn't my idea of entertainment. Thirteen graphically depicts the world of young teen girls and shows what some of them really do when nobody is supervising them. Thirteen is meant to shock you into realizing what these girls are really up to, but all it did was depress me.

The film attempts to drive home many points, all of which seemed perfectly obvious to me. It shows how "bad company corrupts good character". Knew that. It shows that teens are into shoplifting. Knew that, too. They're into alcohol. Check. They're into drugs. Got it. Sex. Duh. They're emotionally unstable. I have two sisters, so that's obvious as well. They get away with murder right under their parents' noses. Yea, verily. Teens need their parents to not only be friends, but to be authority figures. Uh huh. Broken homes also have the potential to really screw with kids' minds. Again, obvious. Everyone seems to express some degree of shock at how this movie reveals what really happens with teens, but there were no surprises or epiphanies here for me. You don't have to look very far in the real world to see it all around you.

I also wasn't particularly sympathetic to any of the characters. Tracy willingly allowed herself to get into shoplifting, theft, alcohol, drugs, and sex. She had a choice and she decided to go the bad route. I thought she needed to face the consequences of her actions. Her mother also should have seen the signs and done something about it. Rather than trying to be the cool parent, she should have been laying down the law with Tracy. So for me this movie is about these people making bad choices and having to deal with the bad results.

All my feelings about the plot aside, I thought the acting was well done. Evan Rachel Wood is excellent as Tracy and makes a seamless transformation from the girl who plays with Barbies to a mother's worst nightmare. Holly Hunter is also excellent as the mother desperately trying to keep her family from falling apart more than it already has. Both of these women deliver strong performances. Nikki Reed is also not only very good as the bad friend Evie, but she did a good job co-writing the movie with director Catherine Hardwicke. It's quite an impressive accomplishment for such a young woman.

I didn't particularly care for the camerawork in this film. It looks like they strapped it to a toddler high on sugar and let him go. The camera shakes, wobbles, and zooms in and out randomly. I bet on the big screen it made people seasick. The film also ends abruptly. I didn't feel like there was any resolution to the story. Maybe that was the intention of the writers – to leave it up to audiences to decide what happened. But I didn't find it very satisfying.

The Extras:
There are a few extras included on this DVD:

Commentary by director/co-writer Catherine Hardwicke, co-writer/actor Nikki Reed, and actors Evan Rachel Wood and Brady Corbet – This commentary is pretty fast paced. While Hardwicke keeps things fairly organized and keeps the conversation going, the others are still teenagers and chatter on as such. They tell stories from the set, explain the scenes, comment on the acting, etc. The commentary gives you a little more info on the background of the film and how many scenes were based on Nikki Reed’s real world experiences. For that, this is an insightful commentary.

10 deleted scenes with commentary – These deleted scenes don't add a whole lot to the overall story. One shows Tracy bonding more with her friends at the beginning of the film. Another shows more of her relationship with her brother. Otherwise, though, there's not much here. They can also be viewed with commentary.

Making-of featurette – This is a very short, five minute or so making-of video. There's not much here, but it's about the only place you'll see more of Holly Hunter in the extras.

The Bottom Line:
I'm not sure this movie will appeal to most audiences. No doubt the Oscar buzz will generate a lot of interest, but I didn't find it to my personal tastes. Too dark and depressing.

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