Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Directors commentary; Producers
commentary; Photo montage; Blooper reel; 'I was a Teenage Geek'
featurette; 'The Making of a Teen Dream' featurette; 'Making of
a Teen Dream: Another Take' featurette. Deleted scenes; Theatrical
trailer; Pat Benatar's 'Love Is A Battlefield' music video; Rick
Springfield's 'Jessie's Girl' music video.
AS WISH fulfilment fantasies go, wanting to be 30-years-old was
never one of them. Indeed, most twenty-somethings spend the latter
part of that decade dreading the advent of the big ‘three
As a result, new romantic comedy, 13 Going on 30 is already stretching
credibility even before it sets off on its sugar-coated journey
of teenage angst turned womanhood anxiety.
Designed as a star vehicle for TV star, Jennifer Garner (of Alias
fame), the film immediately feels like a ‘chick flick’
makeover of the Tom Hanks film, Big, not to mention previous body-swapping
comedies, such as Freaky Friday.
That it also contains elements of Pretty Woman, Mean Girls and
just about every romantic comedy you could ever think of should
also provide viewers with some idea of what to expect.
But then this is more about installing Garner as America’s
latest sweetheart, than it is about bringing anything new to the
rom-com genre - which is a shame, given the quality of director,
Gary Winick’s debut feature, Tadpole.
Having established herself as a star in the making with Alias,
and then stealing Ben Affleck’s thunder in Dare-Devil
(and thereby earning her Elektra character its own shot at a franchise),
Garner now seeks to soften her image.
The result is a hit-and-miss affair, that fails to convince that
Garner is cut out for this sort of thing.
The film begins as 13-year-old Jenna Rink (Christa B Allen) is
preparing to celebrate her birthday with overweight best friend,
Matt (Sean Marquette), and trying to escape the attentions of
her ‘dorky parents’, in order to gain the acceptance
of the coolest girls in school and the cute sports jock she has
a crush on.
Things go pair-shaped, however, and
she lashes out at Matt, before wishing to be 30 and successful
- a wish that is granted the very next day, when she wakes up
to find all her desires granted.
The only trouble is, the older, wiser Jenna is now an image-obsessed
fashion magazine editor, with a penchant for back-stabbing and
partying, who has cut both her parents and her former best friend
out of her life - and the 13-year-old trapped in the 30-year-old’s
body has no memory of the 17 years in between.
The ensuing coming-of-age tale finds Jenna enlisting the help
of Matt (now played by Mark Ruffalo) in a bid to right the wrongs
of her new, bitchy existence and subsequently falling in love,
despite the fact that he is betrothed to a weather presenter.
Viewers can probably guess the outcome, even if the path does
occasionally throw in the odd surprise.
Yet, the biggest problem with 13 Going on 30, is not so much
the predictability factor, or the sickly sweet excess, but rather
the awkward performance from Garner in the star role.
She looks terrific, and has a certain sweetness about her, but
she occasionally seems to be trying too hard and seems to be having
trouble tapping into her teenage roots.
It’s only when matters become serious, and she is forced
to act her age, that both Garner and the film work better, only
to be undone, once again, by the sugar-coated finale.
The better performance comes from Ruffalo, who brings the same
sort of shy, easygoing charm he displayed in My
Life Without Me and You Can Count on Me to proceedings.
His emotionally-scarred, yet amicable photographer, injects an
emotional honesty that is sadly lacking from the rest of the story,
and he strikes some fairly decent sparks off Garner into the bargain.
Also on the plus side, is the cheesy 80s soundtrack, which has
fun with the likes of Rick Springfield's Jessie's Girl,
Pat Benatar's Love Is a Battlefield and Michael Jackson’s
Thriller, as well as the odd set-piece, such as Garner’s
attempts to pull a boy.
But there’s no escaping the fact that this is strictly
for the girls only, the majority of whom may even tire at some
of the film’s weaker contrivances.
Turning 30, it seems, is just as bad, on-screen, as it is off!