Tuesday, July 3, 2012

13 Going on 30 (2004) [PG-13] ****

It's Jenna Rink's 13th birthday party, and as she waits for her guests - the popular Six Chick girls' clique– to arrive, her geeky friend Matt gives her his birthday gift - a doll house on which he's labored for weeks. But Jenna doesn't appreciate Matt or his gift; she dreams of being accepted by the Six Chicks and especially by their leader, Lucy Wyman. So when Lucy persuades Jenna to play the Seven Minutes in Heaven kissing game, promising Jenna that her secret crush will join her in the make-out closet, Jenna eagerly agrees. Minutes later Matt opens the closet door and Jenna learns that all her guests have left. Disappointed and humiliated, Jenna blames Matt, retreats to the closet and desperately chants her wish to be thirty years old. Magic glitter from Matt's doll house, hidden in the closet, falls onto her head, and when Jenna awakens the next morning she discovers her wish has been granted.

Jenna (Jennifer Garner) is now thirty, a lovely, willowy brunette, and an editor at Poise magazine in New York City, with an impressive wardrobe and a handsome athlete boyfriend. There's just one problem. Jenna's last memory is of her 13th birthday; she has no recollection of the last seventeen years of her life. Searching for a link to her past Jenna seeks out her childhood friend Matt (Mark Ruffalo) only to learn that she had long ago alienated him, and they were no longer friends. Over the next few weeks, Jenna discovers that she is not a very nice person; she has cut off communication with her parents, seduced her assistant's husband, and sabotaged her publisher. She has no real friends; her main connection with her past is Lucy (Judy Greer), the former leader of the Six Chick clique, who is now a co-worker at Poise. In an intriguing twist, however, Jenna discovers that reawakening her connection with her past could enrich her life, both personally and professionally.

The screenplay by Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa (What Women Want) is somewhat predictable, and the direction by Gary Winick (Bride Wars, Letters to Juliet) is rather slow-paced. 13 Going on 30 succeeds mainly for three reasons: first, Jennifer Garner is reasonably convincing as a 13-year-old on the cusp of adolescence, who finds herself trapped in a 30-year-old body; second, there is genuine warmth and chemistry between Garner and Ruffalo; and finally, the film reminds us in a poignant scene between Jenna and her mother (played by Kathy Baker), that we each need to protect and nurture our connection to our youth, because it is that connection that gives our adult life much of its sense of continuity. If you enjoy films that use this theme of the connection between youth and adulthood, films like Peggy Sue Got Married with Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage, Big with Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins, Indian Summer with its ensemble cast, Disney's: The Kid with Bruce Willis and Emily Mortimer, and Life or Something Like It with Angelina Jolie and Edward Burns, then you might really enjoy 13 Going on 30

Labels: comedy, drama, fantasy, romance, space-time     
Internet Movie Database     
Metacritic 57/100     
Tomatometer (critics=65,viewers=70)     

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