It’s like Big! But GIRLY!
13 Going on 30 isn’t a favorite of mine, but I can easily see how it could be a guilty pleasure. It’s a fluffy morality tale about getting everything you thought you wanted and realizing it wasn’t worth it.
13 year old Jenna Rink is desperate to fit in with the cool girls at school. Her friend Matty is kind and good to her, but Jenna spurns him and a gift he spent ages making her in favor of impressing the cool girls. After an accident with some “wishing dust”, Jenna wakes up to discover she’s thirty years old and a successful magazine editor at her favorite teenage girl magazine, Poise.
What follows is a serious of slapstick and eighties jokes, since Jenna still acts as if she’s thirteen and is thrilled that she can drink pina coladas legally. She helps liven up the failing magazine while learning that before her thirteen year old self was magically transplanted into the future, grown up Jenna Rink was really a very nasty person.
Her best friend (the lovely and wonderful Judy Greer) is cynical, sharp tongued and mean to the hilt. Jenna wonders what happened to Matty, so she tracks him down and discovers he’s engaged and they’re no longer friends.
13 Going On 30 rests on Jennifer Garner’s wide-eyed charm, which gets her through most of the movie. The whole shebang gets trying toward the end because sitting through an hour plus of learning about how vile Adult Jenna was and how equally vile the best friend is gets tiring and depressing.
I never got the Mark Ruffalo love until I saw this movie because he plays a brokenhearted guy who’s willing to still be friends with Jenna, even if she kicked him around something major.
More than anything, 13 Going on 30 is a lesson wrapped up in the trappings of adult people doing the Thriller dance at parties and quoting Pat Benatar. It’s more than a little cheesy given that it’s lecturing a bit on the values of family and friends over material things and status. Of course Jenna gets to go back through the magic of wishing dust to her thirteen year old self and correct her future self’s mistakes. It slightly irritates me that of all the realizations that Jenna comes to – that her nice apartment and job are not worth the backbiting and bitchery she’s engaged in, that her adult self ignoring her parents is horrific to her – that it is a dude that makes her wish she could take it all back.
Garner, Ruffalo and Greer are really the best parts of the movie, but it’s also a treat to watch for the multiple ’80’s references (although you can fast forward through a creepy scene where Garner has a sleepover with “other” 13 year olds).
It’s a little too fluffy and sugary for my taste; I appreciate fully the fact that someone could find this a guilty pleasure, but I’d rather watch Johnny Mnemonic. (Could that be coming up next?!)