Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
|Director||Gary Winick—“Tadpole,” “The Tic Code,” “Sweet Nothing,” “Out of the Rain,” “Curfew”|
|Producer||Donna Arkoff Roth
The tagline reads “for most people it seems like yesterday, for Jenna Rink it was.” And although the plot of this film seems to be aimed more towards the younger crowd, there are MANY parts of this movie that can take us “older” ones back, just like it did for Jenna.
The movie opens in 1987. It’s Jenna’s 13th birthday, and it’s clear from the beginning that Jenna is stuck in the ever-present battle most of us have faced, the battle of fitting in with the “cool kids.” The things that seem to consistently stand in her way are her less than cool appearance (by her peer’s standards), her somewhat “geeky,” socially unaccepted best friend and neighbor Matt Flamhaff, and her parents who she is clearly embarrassed by. All of Jenna’s hopes seem to be riding on her non-parentally supervised birthday party that the cool girls (as well as the hot guys) all agreed to come to.
You clearly see Jenna struggle to be accepted, and finally choose mean-spirited popularity and acceptance over her best friend. Young kids, primarily girls, watching this movie will be able to relate at this point. To really “connect” with the place that this character is at.
The party turns for the worst and Jenna is left feeling broken, crying in a closet, just wishing that this would end—that she could just grow up, be 30, flirty, successful, and voilà! She (Jennifer Garner) awakens the next morning as a beautiful, successful 30 year old who seems to have it all.
Throughout the story Jenna sees that her life at 30 is nothing like she thought it would be. It does not take long for Jenna to seek out her best friend Matt (Mark Ruffalo) who she soon finds out is no longer a friend at all; they had in fact parted ways after her 13th birthday party. Jenna continues to create ways to see him and soon realizes that her heart wanted to choose him all along; however, it seems too late as she learns that Matt is 2 weeks away from his wedding—to a girl you want to hate (because you like Jenna), but can’t help but like.
Written by Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa, (“What Women Want”) and produced by Susan Arnold and Donna Arkoff Roth (“Forces of Nature,” “America’s Sweethearts,” and “Benny and Joon”), this movie is a triumphant story of redemption, true class (and not the “5th Avenue” kind of class), and yes, in true “chick flick” fashion, it is last but not least, a story about love. There is much to laugh at, grow teary-eyed at, and especially dance and sing along with, as it has a fabulous soundtrack straight out of the 80’s!
As I have already mentioned, this movie appears to be aimed more for the middle school to high school crowd. Although overall, this movie remains relatively innocent, I would caution parents to really know your teens before allowing them to see it. There is content that would need to be viewed by a more emotionally mature teen. For example, from the beginning, her boyfriend (it is obvious that a physical relationship existed between him and Jenna prior to the timeline of this film) calls her “sweet bottom” and seems to be completely sex obsessed with her. Every time he sees her, calls her, etc., it seems to be all he can think/talk about.
The 30 year old Jenna works for a fashion magazine. During a meeting about cover stories, there are many ideas “tossed out there” that involve sexual dialog ranging from butts, to breasts to orgasms—though in defense of the film I took this as joking (“poking fun”) at the fashion magazines that run stories like that.
It is made clear at one point in the film that Jenna had been having an affair with a co-workers husband. Jenna is also a “partier/heavy drinker” and is not at all monogamous to her boy friend.
The Lord’s name is taken in vain several times and there is some profanity. It is not rampant throughout the film, and I think that is why when it does appear, it seems louder and more harsh.
There is no nudity in this movie, though there is a scene where Jenna’s boyfriend attempts to do a strip tease for her, but it only shows him down to his underwear. There is also a scene where he is walking around in a towel and drops it just as an umbrella pops up to block his genitals.
I loved this movie! It was fun, entertaining and left me with a great feeling. More so though, it reminded me of a time when I also wished to be an adult so that I could be done with the dramas of adolescence. Life was supposed to be better then, wasn’t it? Throughout this story, Jenna begins to see how heartless, selfish and even vindictive she had grown to be, and she does not want to be that person. “13 Going on 30” is a beautiful story of forgiveness, second chances, accepting others for who they are and making the best out of wherever we are in life.
If you feel your teen can handle the objectionable content in this film, then I encourage it, because it has lessons and realities that today’s youth need to learn.
Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor