Apr 22, 2011

[Movies] 13 Going on 30 (2004)

13 Going on 30 (2004)When my partner and I merged our respective video collections, the resulting monstrosity was a weird mix of our respective interests. I generally like science fiction movies, fantasy pieces and the odd drama here and there. He likes horror movies, romantic comedies and a heck of a lot of anime. Of course we have a lot of common interests and so the merging was actually a lot of fun, but then there are those exploratory ventures when one tries to watch the movies of the other. I've made him watch all movie adaptations of Frank Herbert's Dune. He's made me watch really scary shit like The Descent. Good grief.

So this was another of those movies that I watched simply because it was amongst our DVDs and I wasn't in the mood for attacking anything heavier or requiring significant brain activity. It's hard to watch overly serious stuff after a long day at the office, after all. It's probably why I managed to watch so much of $#*! My Dad Says despite its lackluster humor.

Anyway, this movie's only really remarkable feature were its stars. And I don't say this because I particularly liked them - they were just familiar to me and it's always nice to see a familiar face, right? It did answer my need for light post-work shift entertainment. Nothing too spectacular, but nothing too stupid either.

13 Going on 30 is a 2004 romantic comedy directed by Gary Winick, whose prior works at the time included Tadpole and Pieces of April. But more recently he was involved in movies like Bride Wars and Letters to Juliet. Um.

We start with a young Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen) about to celebrate her 13th birthday in 1987. She's your typical social outcast - at least as far as her high school brain can process. After a fairly cruel practical joke by your stereotypical school mean girl type of person, Jenna wishes to be 30 so she can get past this all this social awkwardness. With the help of some magic dust (seriously), her 13 year old consciousness gets transported into her 30 year old self in the future. Cue expected hilarity.

So now Jenna (Jennifer Garner) lives in a Fifth Avenue apartment in New York, works at Poise magazine and is now best friends with the very girl who tortured her in high school (Judy Greer). As she tries to track down her best friend from her school days, Matty (Mark Ruffalo), it turns out they've been estranged from one another as friends. And Mark is now engaged to marry someone else. As she learns more and more about her "future" life, she comes to realize that her high school dreams weren't quite as great as she had envisioned.

Yes, this is yet another body swap movie similar to things like Freak Friday and all those other movies. The whole time traveling consciousness notion was a tad cute and at least it meant the movie didn't just try to be another "I love the 80's" kind of movie. As much as I love the quirkiness of that period, it's already become a major movie trope to the point of ridiculousness.

Jennifer GarnerCover of Jennifer GarnerThe movie capitalizes on the odd juxtaposition of the pretty yet somewhat masculine Jennifer Garner trying to act like a 13 year old. It could have gotten a lot more slapstick than it did, but thankfully they didn't push things that far. However she wasn't exactly that funny either and her attempts just made her seem more like a person with a probable mental disability (no offense to those who actually have one) than a kid trapped in an adult body. But hey, she tried right?

And the story is as shallow and predictable as you can expect it to be. So you know she's going to come to not like her adult life based on her 13 year old sensibilities. And she'll make some life-changing decisions in the future before she figures out how to get herself back into her past-life body. And given they cast Mark Ruffalo, you know she's bound to end up with him in the end. And to complete the list of cliches, throwing in the publication industry card means her coming up with radical new ideas of the magazine mainly because she thinks like a 13 year old girl even if she;s not particularly creative regardless of her age.

The movie had a generally fun soundtrack at least, which is often the case in these types of movies that choose to hold on to the 80's for dear life. The usage of the music within the context of the movie wasn't consistently appropriate, but at least the music was fun on its own. Cue odd bout of 80's nostalgia here.

13 Going on 30 was an okay addition to the library of 80's centric, body-swapping romantic comedies out there but not necessarily a notable one. It gets 2 home-made dream houses out of a possible 5.

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