13 Going on 30 begs the comparison to Tom Hanks Big. Hanks character wants to be older and wakes up in an adult body. In 13 Going on 30, Jennifer Garners character wants to be mature and wakes up in an adult body. Both have to learn to live with their sudden status as adults, both tackle jobs, both films address relationships with the opposite sex, and both movies have a feel good, be yourself message. But the question that needs to be asked is how many romantic comedies out there are really all that original? Almost every mainstream, big studio film coming out this year is a remake, re-envisioned version or downright rip-off of something weve seen before. 13 Going on 30 isnt new, it isnt bold, and its not exactly thought-provoking entertainment. But at least it is funny.
Jennifer Garner plays the adult version of Jenna (the younger version is played by newcomer Christa Allen). Life's tough enough when you're a kid, but Jenna has it worse because she's on the outs with the group of popular girls at school she so desperately wants to be friends with. When the cool kids play a mean trick on her at her 13th birthday party, Jenna just cant take it anymore. Doing the 13 Going on 30 version of tapping her ruby red slippers together, Jenna miraculously wakes up in the body of Jennifer Garner, who in this movie is a fashion plate with a high-powered job at a glamour magazine. Totally lost in a grown-up body, Jenna seeks out help from the one constant from her childhood, her good friend Matt (played in adult form by Mark Ruffalo). She soon discovers the years between 13 and 30 werent her best, personality-wise. Though she succeeded at work, she failed to remain true to herself and became a demanding witch in the process. With the sweet and innocent 13 year-old Jenna now in control of the 30 year-old body, she quickly realizes it's time to get back in touch with her true feelings.
Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo head the cast, with Judy Greer and Andy Serkis kicking it up a notch in co-starring roles. Greers terrific as the back-stabbing best friend and Serkis' energetic performance separates his minor character from the pack of supporting players.
Bigs a classic comedy that still makes me pause when Im channel surfing (Peggy Sue Got Married, Mystic Pizza, and Safe Men also have that same effect on me). Will 13 Going on 30 eventually evoke that reaction once it hits cable? Its cute, but is it memorable? I think it is in the way Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You and other teen/cross-over-to-the-young-adult-audience movies are. Its fluffy, heartwarming, kind of a cuddly puppy of a movie. There are a few rough spots - I still cant figure out how everyone in the movie knows the moves to Michael Jacksons Thriller by heart but overall its a feel-good movie that gets by on the charm of its actors. Thankfully Garner and Ruffalo have more than enough talent to pull this one off or it could have been more of the same old, same old. With Garner and Ruffalo in the lead, 13 Going on 30 manages to worm its way into the hearts of even the most cynical moviegoers.
"13 Going on 30" was directed by Gary Winick and is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and brief drug references.