13 Going On 30

2004, Movie, PG-13, 97 mins


Although it's basically BIG (1988) with a girly twist, this sprightly coming-of-age-too-soon comedy rises above its derivative concept by virtue of a well-cast ensemble and Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa's quick-witted screenplay. It's 1987 and Jenna Rink's (Christa B. Allen) 13th birthday brings an unwelcome revelation — being a teenager isn't all it's cracked up to be. With the exception of her goofy best friend, Matt (Jack Salvatore Jr.), boys don't seem to notice her, and she has to resort to bribing the cool girls to get them to come to her party, only to have them play a mean prank on her. An article in "Poise" magazine celebrating flirty 30-year-olds clarifies everything: Jenna's heart's desire is to skip the tortures of adolescence and proceed straight to becoming one of these put-together women. And lo and behold, with the help of some magical powder, Jenna gets her wish: She wakes up in 2004 a successful, 30-year-old executive editor (Jennifer Garner) at "Poise." She's dating a NY Ranger and her best friend and co-worker, Lucy (Judy Greer), is one of the popular girls who used to torment her. But she's also a scared and confused teenager inside a very womanly body, completely baffled by her new surroundings. Jenna quickly makes a fool of herself in front of her boss (Andy Serkis), and when she turns to Matt (Mark Ruffalo) for help, she discovers they haven't kept in touch. Or more to the point, she hasn't kept in touch; talking to Matt makes it clear to Jenna that she may have her dream life, but she hasn't grown up to be a very nice person. She sets about changing herself, but can't change the fact that Matt is engaged to be married — and soon. Best known as the sexy crime-fighter of TV's Alias and DAREDEVIL (2003), Garner gamely embraces her frilly side, complete with girlish giggles and some sharply executed physical comedy. The low-key Ruffalo is a pitch-perfect foil for Garner's high-energy antics, and it's a pleasure to see Serkis liberated from the CGI tortures of the damned he suffered as the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy's twisted, schizophrenic Gollum. The soundtrack, heavy on fizzy hits from the '80s, is sharply deployed and, overall, TADPOLE (2002) director Gary Winick serves up enough giddy fun that it's easy to turn a blind eye to the film's skewed sense of time and minor anachronisms. leave a comment --Angel Cohn

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