Wanting to grow up fast – but there’s a thing called the present

13 Going on 30

Released April 23, 2004.

IN SOCIETY. Thrust into adulthood but with a 13 year-old mind. Do we want to grow up too fast?

Although they are unrelated productions, the Tom Hanks vehicle Big (1988) where he played a boy in a man’s body has been revived of a sort in 2004 as a Jennifer Garner (Alias) vehicle with the same premise except now the main character is a girl.

Teenage innocence and wholesomeness into the ways of adulthood, via a transformation, is intriguing and Garner doesn’t make the transition look off-putting. However, one may find they are not willing to suspend disbelief. Still, this comedy is irresistible and fun loving, among other things.

The soundtrack plays like an advertisement for those best of 80s collections of nostalgic freaks (which include Michael Jackson and Madonna) and the film is surprisingly more in-depth than anticipated and warm-hearted.

It is about the best things from the 80s, learning from your mistakes, and having a kind of awakening, as in waiting for life to unravel in its own proper timing: good messages for the female teen market. There is also a strong theme of considering where one stands morally as this has consequences for the future in how one lives and behaves. Although it may be a stretch for them, 30-somethings may get something out of this film as well.

The ways of the world are at first shocking for the neophyte (the adult ‘body’ is played by Garner). However, the 13-year-old is convinced that 30 is better than 13 and is magically transformed into her future self – with a 13-year-old mind – but out of her depth as a New York magazine editor who’s unaware she is living with a man. Resisting the quite worldly going-on around her, little does she know who she has become in 2004. Besides, she has the mind of a 13-year-old who is thrust into a ‘future shock’.

But Mark Ruffalo and Garner as former school friends rekindle their friendship and attraction while in their 30’s, have spark and chemistry, a layer or two, and offer strong performances. As polar opposites, they assert popular mythology that opposites do attract and can be good friends.

Garner, who is in a lot of the scenes, doesn’t get into the habit of scene stealing from the supporting players, which includes Andy Serkis (Gollum, from The Lord of the Rings). The appearance of Garner’s flamboyant publisher played by Andy Serkis hasn’t shaken the iconic status of his portrayal of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. First scene with Serkis sets the tone best as the filmmaker seems to be jibing at every subsequent edge about Gollum’s split-personality (it works unevenly). Serkis is great though and proves that even in a subtle parody has itching potential to do more (perhaps with Peter Jackson in 2005’s King Kong).

Garner, who as the appealing lead proves she is no prima donna and has extended her range convincingly from butch chick (in Alias and Daredevil) to naïve 30-something. You might even expect a Golden Globe nomination for comedy actress next year. This movie is a good career move as well.

The entertaining first half, which includes a lively musical number set piece involving the song Thriller by Michael Jackson, follows a more complicated second half with conventional plot developments and character motivations, handled tastefully.

Warnings: This film contains profanity.

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers.

Published 2004, Entertainmentnutz.com/Movies. Augmented 2022.

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