Sunday, August 22, 2004

13 Going on 30 

We finally watched this one the other day, and I loved it. I was in a bit of a cranky mood over the evening prior to watching this. Nothing specific, I had simply become a grump. After dinner we popped 13 Going on 30 into the DVD player, and flopped on the couches. About halfway through we decided to pause long enough to dish up some Ben & Jerry's, and it was like I had received an emotional transfusion. I was up, happy, optimistic, cheery. The Girl may have been wondering if I was experiencing sudden onset, rapid cycling manic depression, but it was nothing more than the power of film.

Jennifer Garner plays Jenna Rink, an intelligent and optimistic but not quite popular 13 year old. Through some emotional upheaval, a teenage tantrum and some magic wish dust, she wakes up the next day as a 30-year-old version of herself, now living in NYC and working as a high powered publishing executive. The premise is similar to Big, of course, but this one takes a different approach. In Big, Tom Hanks' character is the only one that suffers the time displacement. He wakes up exactly where his adolescent self went to sleep, even wearing the same pajamas, but physically he is now an adult. He then goes to NYC to figure out the solution, gets himself a job, and slowly establishes himself in the adult world.

Jenna Rink instead did a time jump. Everything has advanced 17 years, except for her mind and memories. She finds herself in the world she created over the ensuing years, and must learn to deal with the ramifications of everything she has done but of which she has no recollection. Plus she's seeing everything through the eyes of her just-turned-13 self. She hasn't gone through all the events that occur during the teen years, the shifting friendships, the growing apart of friends, the compromises of life, or the temptations of power.

What makes this one great is Jennifer Garner. She made me believe that she really was 13-year-old Jenna, who looked out at the world and saw only possibilities, who could be happy as a clam just getting her best friend Mattie to dance to Thriller with her. There are a number of scenes where she's interacting with young teenagers, and she doesn't seem to be an adult pretending to be a kid in an adult's body. She just seems to be a teenager who had her growth spurt really early. Her performance is right up there with Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday.

Excellent performances as well by the supporting cast of Mark Ruffalo (who is currently working on the untitled semi-sequal to The Graduate with Jennifer Aniston) and Judy Greer (who is also in The Village, as the older sister to Bryce Dallas Howard's character).

Bottom line - it's fun summer fluff. Nothing deep, no Academy Award nominations, but if you're looking for something to lift your spirits, look no further.

Reality check: The Girl enjoyed it, but not as much as I did. She just doesn't get as carried away with stories as I do. Plus there was the whole time-jumping thing, which doesn't really do it for her.

Amazon links:

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:05 AM