Monday, November 12, 2012

13 Going on 30 (2004)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, from my personal collection.

So remember that huge storm that ransacked the American East Coast and various island nations two weeks ago? Well while I personally was ok, I did spend the whole time alone in my window-heavy apartment, anxiously reading about how NJ was being destroyed and worrying for my friends and family there, while being convinced I myself would lose power or have a window explode onto me. SO I cooked up some cheesy orzo and lemon chicken, settled in, and watched 13 Going on 30 to calm my nerves. Because nothing bad happens in this movie. On her thirteenth birthday, adorable but uncool Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen)- who desperately wants to be one of the popular kids- finds herself transported into her future self (Jennifer Garner). She's thirty years old and highly successful, working at her favorite fashion magazine, best friends with Judy Greer, and dating a professional hockey player, but as she adjusts to living 17 years in the future and not remembering the intervening time, she comes to realize she did not grow up to be a nice person. She reconnects with Matt (Mark Ruffalo), her best friend as a kid, and with his help tries to make up for apparently being a jerk all her adult life.

This movie is the embodiment of cuteness, basically. Jennifer Garner just smiles that big dimpled smile and everyone melts into her effusive joy, and then Mark Ruffalo shows up with his aw-shucks sarcasm and general Ruffalo-ness and we all just have our pants charmed the fuck off, I mean jeez. It's a little too sickly-sweet at times, with some overly-bubbly dialogue and basically zero conflict except maybe when Matt is going to marry a different lady who seems ok, oh darn. Most of the story doesn't make any sense if you think about it for more than five seconds, BUT I generally really enjoy 13 Going on 30. Garner is very funny in her time-displaced-13-year-old reactions to things, with gags ranging from exultation at discovering her boobs to freaking right out when she hears a cell phone ring. And I love Judy Greer as the stuck-up frenemy Lucy, she gets saddled with these "best friend" supporting roles but somehow she always shines the most. And naturally the ultra-80s soundtrack lends a nostalgic glow to everything.

It's brisk, it's breezy, it's brightly colored, it's just a fun time. It can be too cutesy and pleased with itself at times, and I wanted more Mark Ruffalo, but for a light-hearted romantic comedy with convenient fantasy elements I can't really expect much serious writing. Also I wanted to say that I think it's cool that though this is pegged as a romantic comedy, it's actually largely focused on Jenna's career and platonic relationships. Most of the plot revolves around the workplace and her maturation as a young woman, as opposed to giving everything over to romance. I was almost sad when she re-did it all and married Matt (OH SPOILER WHAT) because I was afraid she wouldn't become a powerful, creative businesswoman anymore, but they don't show what her job is in the alternate future so I can hope that she is still rockin' it.


Pair This Movie With: We can go a few different routes. For a Mark Ruffalo romantic comedy love-fest, there's Just Like Heaven. Or for another tale of a naive young women transported through glitter to New York City, there's Enchanted. OOOOR everyone compared this movie to Big when it came out, so that's an option as well.


  1. I love this movie pretty much for the exact reasons you do. Yet Leah hates it. If you consider its SUPPOSED to be a girly movie that makes things strange in this house.

    Gary Winick, the director, who sadly died aged 49 last year also directed the low low budgetted Tadpole which might make for a good double feature.

  2. Is it bad that I actually...kinda enjoyed this one? Mainly for this exact reason that you stated: "Also I wanted to say that I think it's cool that though this is pegged as a romantic comedy, it's actually largely focused on Jenna's career and platonic relationships." It's a refreshing edge to a romantic comedy, even one as bubble-gum fluffy as this one.

    Though, let's be honest. I was only watching it for the Ruffalo.

  3. Toby: You know it's funny, I actually really like TADPOLE but I had no idea it was from the same director (or that he had passed away, that's terrible). It was the first indie movie I saw in a theater, I remember feeling really cool going into NYC to catch it with my uncle, since Aaron Stanford was one of his students (he's a college drama teacher).

    M: Of course it's not bad! It's a cute movie, and yessss RUFFALO!

    1. Hey that is a cool story. Whatever happened to him anyway?