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Overall Rating
3.22

Awesome: 19%
Worth A Look39%
Average: 9%
Pretty Bad: 11%
Total Crap: 22%

7 reviews, 58 user ratings


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13 Going on 30
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Garner makes it fun and poppy."
4 stars

Jennifer Garner, for all I know, may have demonstrated a deft comic touch in her many guises on the popular spy show 'Alias' (haven't seen it, wouldn't know). In movies, she has typically been employed as the hottie-in-residence; her biggest prior role was the athletic assassin Elektra in 'Daredevil.'

But in 13 Going on 30, her first starring vehicle, Garner comes into her own as a spirited light comedienne. The story is essentially a distaff Big, with a few alterations, but it's a friendly, giggly movie, closer in tone to Romy and Michele's High School Reunion and the other '80s-flavored comedies of the late '90s. I saw girls leaving the screening who weren't even born yet when "Love Is a Battlefield," one of the film's central nostalgia trips, was big. Made me feel old.

Garner's character, Jenna, feels old, too. In 1987, her teenage self (played by Shana Dowdeswell), in the midst of a hellish thirteenth birthday, wishes she were thirty (she's seen a magazine article declaring that thirtysomethings have more fun). Sprinkled with some magic "wishing dust," Jenna wakes up in 2004, in an adult body, and in the bed she sometimes shares with a hockey player. It's as if Jenna is transported seventeen years into the future, without any knowledge of how she came to be there -- how'd she get to be a magazine editor, for instance? Since Jenna is thirty on the outside and thirteen on the inside, her situation has many levels of disorientation. After some fumbling, though, she deals with it.

Those of us who were actually there will note that the film's '80s soundtrack is a bit out of sync: In 1987, both "Love Is a Battlefield" and Jenna's other big number, Michael Jackson's "Thriller," were so five years ago, and when Jenna's best friend Matt plays a Talking Heads tune and no one recognizes it, you wonder where they've been -- it's "Burning Down the House," man. Still, the scene in which grown-up Jenna livens a dull party by requesting "Thriller," happily leading a bunch of thirtysomethings in the goofily iconic zombie dance, ranks right up there with Cameron Diaz's bubbly white-girl moves to "Baby Got Back" in the first Charlie's Angels. A radiant woman looking like she's having the time of her life makes up for a lot of inconsistencies in both soundtrack and narrative.

Jenna runs into the grown Matt (Mark Ruffalo), now a photographer, and for a while the movie goes a little soft. The script brings up the issue of how Jenna had been behaving up until her teen self claimed her body, and the picture isn't pretty; we also learn that she was cruel to Matt back in '87, and that they haven't spoken in years. Mark Ruffalo knows he's the standard-issue Nonthreatening Male here (he probably agreed to it to avoid being typecast as the Threatening Male after In the Cut), but his Matt comes at the romance sideways, crablike, suspicious of Jenna's motives after all this time but warming to her slowly, and Garner, playing off his reticence, gets to enact teenage yearning quite becomingly.

The scenes at Jenna's magazine office (with a de-Gollumized Andy Serkis in fine harried form as her editor-in-chief) fall just this side of persuasive; I'm not convinced, as the script apparently is, that Jenna's aw-shucks concept for the magazine's redesign would go over so huge with her supervisors, nor that a rival mag would find it hot enough to steal. But 13 Going on 30 isn't about that, anyway; it's about a thirty-year-old bouncing on a bed to Pat Benatar and confiding to a group of thirteen-year-olds about boys, or eating ice cream and happily sharing it with a dog in the park, or going to visit Matt on his wedding day and weeping as she holds the gift he gave her on her thirteenth birthday.

Mainly, it's about Jennifer Garner redesigning herself for romantic comedy, for which, I now know, she has a natural affinity.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9268&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/11/07 07:59:38
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User Comments

11/01/14 David Hollingsworth A non-cliched charming, and sweet romantic comedy 5 stars
12/14/13 PuUlITrSiRogyBnrCD svtNpqdAzaHPNBZ 2 stars
12/12/13 FsPNavNaGsOcv vvSKxiHemYhnB 3 stars
3/18/13 Mireya cute and entertaining 4 stars
6/07/11 art CUTE STORY,however the main draw to this is JENIFER GARNERS FACE and HER REAR-END! 4 stars
1/21/10 art JENNIFER GARNER"S FACE AND BODY,ARE the ONLY REASON TO WATCH THIS GARBAGE! 1 stars
7/21/09 Howard E Davis I think it's a sweet, funny, entertaining comedy 5 stars
5/13/09 art JENNIFER GARNER is a pretty sight,but not this drievel! 1 stars
11/05/08 PAUL SHORTT ENGAGING AND SWEET BUT PREDICTABLE 3 stars
10/19/08 Nick Somoski On older movie already, but I loved! I still watch my DVD of it now and then! 4 stars
9/26/08 Annie G Cute and weak. Plot has been done better in other films, but still an ok film. 3 stars
8/25/08 ANKIT AWSOME FLICK !! BRAVO 5 stars
6/15/07 Danielle Ophelia One tool of the vast conspiracy to siphon out what intelligence the public has. AVOID! 1 stars
5/28/07 none ya it was so hotttttttttt 5 stars
11/18/06 Lys gd film 5 stars
11/11/06 David Pollastrini all the women in this film are hot! 4 stars
11/05/06 cody a good comedy with a charming perf. by jennifer, but it kinded like clueless meets big. 3 stars
9/15/06 Mayrisha This movie brought a smile and a tear to my face. 4 stars
7/14/06 Stanley Thai A very good film. It's funny and has some sweet scenes. 4 stars
2/07/06 Anthony A very good chick flick, i enjoyed it 4 stars
8/31/05 ES Lest we forget Jen's amazing little number with the chopsticks in her hair, what a film 4 stars
4/19/05 Brig. Gen. Ripper Any movie that brings back Thriller is alright in my book 4 stars
3/28/05 Emma I thought that this was a really good film. 5 stars
12/15/04 keithers.. I remembering seeing this movie...i think it was call BIG though with tom Hanks 1 stars
10/31/04 oranges_888 Mark Ruffalo sucked ass and couldn't pull it off - he so totally was miscast 4 stars
10/01/04 Pat A wonderful movie; I watched it over and over again. 5 stars
9/26/04 Lindsay It F***** sucked 1 stars
9/20/04 angel the movie was funny, well written, but the ending was terrible! too neatly wound up 3 stars
9/19/04 Fernando R. Mdza Que tal, me gusto bastante el papel de Jennifer Garner y Mark Ruffalo excelente!! 5 stars
9/15/04 random* yes it's trite, typical romcom- yet somehow still charming, what can I say 4 stars
8/31/04 samantha wasnt like I thought 1 stars
8/26/04 S.F. Ghastly.trite shit. u get fed up of watching a film thats so mundane. 1 stars
8/23/04 Jim A treasure. A delightful fable to the end. 5 stars
8/14/04 Uncle Phucker Garner is a great physical comic actor. But suprisingly great story with heart. 5 stars
8/04/04 ownerofdajoint JENNIFER IS DELECTABLE.ALIAS FANS CHECK HER OUT!! 4 stars
7/30/04 M Cute as!! 80's inspired bubble gum movie! 4 stars
7/29/04 Kathryn It was a lot of fun to watch 5 stars
7/28/04 Jenna Furr Jennifer G feigns shit-don't-stink innocence while advocating Pat Benatar-style ballbusting 2 stars
7/23/04 syd worth it just for Mark Rufallo - what can I say, but I'm shallow! 3 stars
7/19/04 Valerie Very cute movie. Kind of a 'girly' version of "Big". 4 stars
7/11/04 Crystal M. IT WAS GREAT..when does it come out? 5 stars
7/05/04 Brian C0urtney Garner's performance is awful and embarrassing to watch 2 stars
6/17/04 Anna ! shows some things 13 yr. olds have to deal with in life thru highschool and Jr. high 5 stars
6/10/04 Amy I thought it was excellent and has an uplifting message. 5 stars
6/03/04 Shaun I can't seem to overlook the fact that this movie was already made, it's called "Big"!!!! 2 stars
6/03/04 Elizabeth While a rather recycled story, it gets by on Jennifer Garner's charm. 3 stars
5/27/04 kristina i loved the movie so much i saw it 3 times and ill see it more times if the offer come sup! 5 stars
5/18/04 MC Reminded me of Big, enough said. 5 stars
5/16/04 JAJansenJr Five stars for a film that is entertaining, uplifting and affirms good values 5 stars
5/13/04 jamie i love this movie jennifer garner was so funny 5 stars
5/13/04 Me This movie was already made it was called "Jack" 1 stars
5/11/04 malcolm the music was definitely more '84 than 87. jennifer garner in a slip? i'll take it. 3 stars
5/04/04 Brenda Loved the message of 2nd chances, true to self 4 stars
4/29/04 Katie Verbeke I thought this moving was amazing...it rocked! 5 stars
4/28/04 Joe Stupid, Shallow And Did I Mention Pointless 1 stars
4/27/04 Mitchua Michael Jackson music+30 y/o having slumber parties with kid=deal for Jackson music rights 3 stars
4/26/04 Christina She's better as an ass-kicker. BIG ripoff, nuff said. 1 stars
4/23/04 Ray Garner is fun, but the movie is not 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  23-Apr-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Feb-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Sep-2004


Directed by
  Gary Winick

Written by
  Josh Goldsmith
  Cathy Yuspa

Cast
  Jennifer Garner
  Mark Ruffalo
  Kathy Baker
  Judy Greer
  Andy Serkis
  Samuel Ball



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