Thirteen year old Jenna Rink wants nothing more than to be one of the cool ones. But after yet another cruel prank by the power crowd in junior high, Jenna wishes that she was thirty, flirty, and fun and wakes up as Jennifer Garner from Alias. Wacky hijinks ensue.
You know, practically everyday I wish I was fifty, thrifty, and napping. And yet, Kevin Kline isn’t looking back at me from the mirror when I brush my teeth. I’d have wacky hijinks too, as my kids would all be my age now and I’d try to go to work and write code with super computers that critique my work.
If you think this movie sounds like “Big”, you’re not wrong. The difference is that instead of time standing still and Jenna instantly becoming old, time passes and she just skips over the in between time and takes up residence in her normal 30 year old life. Im my opinion (and thats what this article is all about) this is already one strike against the movie. It’s more interesting to watch a kid being forced to succeed in an adult’s world instead of a kid just trying not to screw up an adult’s life like most of the adult/child personality swap movies.
“13 Going on 30″ is pumped full of 80′s culture as Jenna tries to take her Teen Beat 80′s knowledge and apply it to a modern New York fashion magazine of which she is now an editor. One scene has her doing the dance from Thriller to save a quickly dying party her magazine threw. She quotes Pat Benatar to a gaggle of 13 year old girls who gather around her and treat her as their yoda. And she loves Rick Springfield (was Rick Springfield ever a heartthrob, the dude always looked like a moppet to me)?
Has anyone else noticed the rise of 80′s nostalgia? You’ve got VH1′s I Love the 80′s, classic video games being re-released, and an explosion of 80′s music radio stations. Do you realize that 25 years from now, the classic rock station is going to be playing Wang Chung? “Now to start off our 25 song oldies block, here’s Chains of Love by Erasure.” That’s just creepy.
For you Jennifer Garner stalkers in the audience, the movie doesn’t have much T&A, except she does clutch her breasts for five minutes when she awakes to discover she no longer has the body of an 18 year old female gymnast. And for some reason she reminds me of Anya’s over-expressive mannerisms in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Giving credit where credit is due though, for at least the first half of the movie she does act like a 13 year old rather well.
There’s quite a few painful moments for the guys out there, such as when Jenna’s vapid hockey player boyfriend does a striptease for her and she, having never even kissed a boy at this point, averts her eyes. And the previously mentioned Thriller dancing is pretty cringeworthy.
The only nice plot twist in the whole movie is that Jenna slowly realizes she’s been a complete bitch the last 17 years to become cool and successful. Its the old B-movie standby where a man with amnesia slowly remembers that he’s the bad guy. It usually works well because you can see the turmoil a good person endures when the realize they actually play for the discordant side of human nature. Here, while touched on, this turmoil takes a back seat since Jenna’s character doesn’t even consider the nature of her older self and tries to stay the virtuous 13 year old.
“13 Going on 30″ could be worse. Sappiness and cringiness aside, the movie moves at a good pace and doesn’t try to be too preachy. But it certainly isn’t “Big” and just lacks some childlike wonder that seems necessary for this genre. “13 Going on 30″ gets an 4 out of 10 on the Chick-Flick-Watchability Meter.
(The Chick-Flick-Watchability Meter is a measure of how much cross-over appeal a chick flick has to the male forced to watch it. For example, ‘Nell’ would be an eye-gouging out 1 while ‘Romancing the Stone’ would be an action packed 10.)