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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

13 Going On 30

Over the weekend, I got a little bored. Since I was still recovering from the virus, I wasn't good for too much yet and headed over to On Demand to see what free movies were playing. After paging through all the options, I chose to watch 13 Going On 30 and I'm so glad I did.

This movie came out in 2004, so there will be spoilers. You've been warned.

Jenna Rink is 13 and wants to be one of the popular girls. Her best friend, Matt who's always photographing something, doesn't understand why she wants this. And because they pick on him, who can blame him?

On the evening of her birthday party, he brings over a gift for Jenna. He built her a dream house and filled it with things for her. Then he opens up the wishing dust and sprinkles it over the top of the house. Then the popular kids show up, and once the leader Lucy who's called Tom Tom gets the paper she conned Jenna into writing for her, she prepares to play a nasty trick on her. She ties a blindfold around Jenna's eyes and sends her into a closet, telling her that one of the popular boys wants to join her. That, of course, isn't what happens. Devastated, Jenna wishes she were thirty and some wishing dust from the dream house falls on her.

The next thing Jenna knows, she's waking up in a strange bedroom that's inside a strange apartment and she's 30. As she's trying to come to terms with all this, a man (grown-up Jenna's boyfriend that transplanted Jenna knows nothing about) comes out in only a towel. When he drops it, she flees and waiting for her in front of her Manhattan apartment building is her coworker, Lucy, with the limo to take them to work. Jenna, it turns out, is a high-powered magazine editor.

Jenna calls her parents and finds out they're on a Caribbean cruise, so as soon as she can, she finds her best friend, Matt, looking for some help. Matt has turned into a prince, but she soon learns they aren't friends anymore and haven't been since her 13th birthday party when she threw the dream house at him.

That's only the first of many revelations teenage Jenna learns about the woman she's become. There's a whole bunch of not very nice stuff including stealing people's ideas at work and then firing them, sleeping with married men, and sabotaging her magazine to help a competitor sell more copies. You see, if they reach 1 million in circulation, Jenna will be editor-in-chief of the competing magazine.

I honestly didn't expect much from this movie. I figured it would just be some average teen flick, but boy was I surprised. I loved 13 Going On 30 and I am hugely picky about movies.

Grown up Jenna is played by Jennifer Garner who did a great job acting like a 13-year-old trying to act like she's 30. As the story progresses, she loses some of her naivete, but not her innocence. She's disappointed by who she's become and doesn't want to be that person. And when she seems on top of the world, as if she can be this genuine Jenna and still succeed, the bottom falls out.

This film had heart. Thirteen-year-old Jenna is very easy to relate to. Who didn't want to be popular when they were that age? But it was once she fast forwarded to 30 that things became more interesting. Thankfully the script didn't spend a whole lot of time with Jenna foundering around. Yes, at first things aren't easy, but she adapts. Maybe a little too quickly to be believed, but I was happy to overlook that since I'm not a huge fan of characters that don't smarten up. Jenna did and she stepped into her adult life...well, if not spectacularly, at least honestly and ably.

Along the way, as Jenna learns who she's become and is disillusioned by it, she grows up in ways that aren't physical. She reconciles with her parents, who she's kind of blown off. Jenna spends Christmas in St. Bart's with friends, not home with her parents. She realizes what she gave up when she lost Matt as a friend, and when she tells him how she feels, well, he tells her life has moved on and he's marrying his fiancee. I liked this, too. It would have been too easy for the writers to have him dump the fiancee and give them a happy ending, but that wasn't our payoff.

As you'd expect, Jenna gets sent back to the night of her 13th birthday, and this time, she kisses Matt instead of throwing the dream house at him. And her entire life gets rewritten.

My favorite scene in the movie is the one where Jenna dances to Thriller at the swanky magazine party and so many people join in. There were other great scenes, too, of course, but this is the one I want to watch again and again. I also loved grown up Jenna singing Love is a Battlefield with a bunch of 13 year olds during a slumber party.

The biggest disappointment for me? When Jenna returns, we go from kiss with Matt to grown up Jenna and Matt on a completely different life path than what they'd had before. I would have liked to have seen some more of these differences that Jenna made the second time around. Like did she become a magazine editor again? Did she and Matt date all the while between 13 and 30 the second go around or not? I really missed having a bit more epilogue to the ending.

But despite my disappointment in not getting more information, the ending was still near perfect for the movie. It was a very satisfying conclusion.

As you can guess, I'm giving this film two thumbs up. I highly recommend.