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13 Going On 30 (2004)

Suddenly 30

For some, 13 feels like it was just yesterday. For Jenna, it was.

Directed by:

Gary Winick

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 98 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

If you go to see ’13 Going on 30’ hoping for a kiddy-adult transformation flick to match ‘Big’, chances are you’ll be disappointed. Sixteen years on from its release, Big is still the best of the body-swap-type movies by quite some distance, and in this reviewer’s opinion remains Tom Hanks’ finest piece of live action work. But there’s little denying that this latest spin on the idea manages to produce a little bit of warmth and charm all of its own.nnIt’s not quite a remake of Big, for two obvious reasons. For one thing, lead character Jenna – as you might be able to guess from the name – is a girlie (played at first by Christa B. Allen and then, for the most part, by Jennifer ‘Alias’ iGarner). Secondly, there’s a time-skipping aspect to this one. Jenna doesn’t just wake up one day aged 30 – she literally leaps 17 years into the future, with the effect that everyone she knows is suddenly all grown-up as well.

It also has to be said that the guys making these sorts of films seem to be putting less and less thought into how the age change actually comes about. In Big, we had the creepy Zoltar machine. In ‘Vice-Versa’ an ancient mystical skull was used. Even Freaky Fiday managed to come up with a mad old Chinese bird who was going about placing hexes on people. What do we have here? “Wishing dust”, apparently bought from a regular common-or-garden store. Hell, they could at least have gone to the effort of calling it “Oriental wishing dust”.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, 13-year-old Jenna wishes she was 30-year-old Jenna, and hey presto – she is. Of course, she soon discovers adult life has its own problems, such as she’s turned into a complete battle-axe who nobody likes. That includes childhood chum Matt (first Sean Marquette, and then Mark Ruffalo), who gave up on fancying her years ago and has since gotten engaged to a TV weather-gal (Lynn Collins). Cue blossoming love story…

In terms of actual comedy, there’s a bit of a gulf here. What few chuckle-out-loud moments there are you’ll already have seen in the trailer, and the rest of the dialogue is pretty weak stuff. What saves the film is Garner. Despite a lack of previous comedy experience, her infectious enthusiasm often carries the project, and there’s a believable chemistry between her and leading man Ruffalo. The result is a movie with a dearth of laughs, but bags of spirit.

It's Got: Plenty of opportunities for 80s nostalgia, be it gazing longingly into Rick Springfield’s ‘Jessie’s Girl’ video or getting in line for some ‘Thriller’ dancing.

It Needs: To have put a little more thought into the actual moments of transformation – and perhaps give us a less hurried ending.


Likeable but uninspiring, it’ll be most memorable for exposing Jennifer Garner’s potential as a rom-com lead – so expect to be sick of the sight of her within five years!

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