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"13 Going on 30" Movie Review

Been There, Done That – But, So What?

By

Jennifer Garner 13 Going on 30

Jennifer Garner discovers she's suddenly an adult in the romantic comedy, "13 Going on 30."

Columbia Pictures
Who knew Jennifer Garner could do comedy so well? In “13 Going on 30,” the “Alias” star puts her physical training to comedic use as she sells the role of a 30 year-old woman who believes she’s actually just turned 13. Portraying a character inhabiting a body 17 years older than her mind allows her to believe, Garner has all the physical moves and nuances of a 13 year-old down pat. She appears gawky and gangly in her mature body and - in one of my favorite scenes - extremely pleased with the size of her breasts.

“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 Garner’s 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 we’ve seen before. “13 Going on 30” isn’t new, it isn’t bold, and it’s 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 can’t 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 weren’t 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. Greer’s terrific as the back-stabbing best friend and Serkis' energetic performance separates his minor character from the pack of supporting players.

“Big’s” a classic comedy that still makes me pause when I’m 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? It’s 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. It’s fluffy, heartwarming, kind of a cuddly puppy of a movie. There are a few rough spots - I still can’t figure out how everyone in the movie knows the moves to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ by heart – but overall it’s 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.

GRADE: B

"13 Going on 30" was directed by Gary Winick and is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and brief drug references.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
"13 Going on 30" Photo Gallery
Interview with Jennifer Garner
"13 Going on 30" Trailer, Credits and Interviews

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