a critiQal film review 13 Going On 30 (2004)

Plot: Jenna Rink is turning 13. When her birthday party is unsuccessful she closes her eyes and wishes she was "30, flirty and thriving", just like the girls in her favorite magazine Poise. When she opens her eyes again, Jenna (Garner) is shocked to discover she is now exactly that: 30 years old, flirty and working as a magazine editor for Poise. Confused, she hunts down her old best friend Matt (Ruffalo), and discovers how much things have changed in the past 17 years.

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  • ...a few growing pains, but Jennifer Garner and some memorable scenes will help you through the film.

When I first saw the previews for 13 Going On 30 on TV, I thought it looked childish and stupid because I thought the film idea skipped some of the best parts of being a teenager (such as getting your drivers license, being able to vote, etc), so how could the film be interesting? The more I saw the previews, however, some parts seemed funny, so I wondered if the rest of the film would turn out okay. So, when Reid and I were in our local Blockbuster® the other day, I decided to go ahead and rent it. Would this be another case of the preview being better than the film, or would I be pleasantly surprised?

I’d seen Jennifer Garner a few years ago in The Whole Nine Yards and thought she did a decent job. Lately, I’d heard she was the star of hit new show “Alias” (TV), but hadn’t had a chance to see any of the episodes yet, so I wasn’t sure how she was going to do in this film.

Luckily, she did a good job …maybe too good. After seeing her in this role, and how easily it came to her, one wonders “who couldn’t play that role?” While this says a lot about her ability as an actress, it may lead people to believe that she’s just taking easy roles. Someone might even wonder why she’s going for easy roles like this one instead of tougher, more dramatic roles (then again, apparently “Alias” (TV) is much more dramatic, and she’s trying to change things up a little bit). Mark Ruffalo, who was mainly around just as the love interest of the film, didn’t really have a whole lot to do…and on top of that, the chemistry was only so-so.

The whole storyline idea of this film is, no pun intended, a little old. The whole idea of someone suddenly becoming much older was quite original back when it first came out. Since then, we have been inundated with these type of films (for example: Big, Vice Versa, Freaky Friday, etc.). This film doesn’t really do anything much differently than it’s predecessors, unfortunately. It’s a bit tired by this point, and the film could have used more originality. The dialogue, on the other hand, was pretty good, and kept the viewer’s interest throughout the film more than the old storyline did.

It was fun, however, to watch Jenna trying to fit her 80’s 13-year old style in with modern day. Two scenes that particularly stick out in my mind involve her 13-year old mentality clashing with modern day, with varying results.

The first scene, which you’ve probably seen in the preview, is when one of her co-workers tells her that a cute guy is “scamming” on her, and she goes over and introduces herself…to a 13 year old boy.

The second scene that really stood out was a scene of her at a formal party. When the party starts to slow down, she comes up with the idea of getting everyone to do her favorite dance, set to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. These two scenes are probably the funniest in the film, and will be remembered by the audience long after the tired old plot has faded from memory.

So, do you want to venture back to your younger days? If so, this movie will probably be able to entertain you. If you’re looking for something truly original, rent something else. 13 Going On 30 has a few growing pains, but Jennifer Garner and some memorable scenes will help you through the film.

Is Jennifer Garner the next top actress? Not yet…but then again, I haven’t seen “Alias” (TV) yet.

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