13 Going on 30
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Gary Winick
scr Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa
with Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis, Kathy Baker, Renee Olstead, Samuel Ball, Phil Reeves, Christa B Allen, Sean Marquette, Alex Black, Jim Gaffigan
release US 23.Apr.04, UK 4.Aug.04
04/US 1h38

We are young, heartache to heartache we stand! Garner and friends...

garner ruffalo serkis
13 Going On 30 Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
Jennifer Garner seriously turns on the star power in this gimmicky rom-com, which is blessed with sharply written dialog and vivid characters, even when the plot drifts into a swamp of mushy cliches.

On the eve of her 13th birthday, Jenna (Allen) is desperate to be one of the cool girls, virtually ignoring her nerdy-but-actually-cool pal Matt (Marquette). In a moment of despair, she expresses her longing to be 30 ... and presto, she's now a high-powered 30-year-old Manhattan magazine editor (now Garner), with one of those cool girls (Greer) as her best friend. Confused about the sudden change, Jenna looks up Matt (now Ruffalo), who put his crush on Jenna behind him 17 years earlier.

Garner is so good at playing a pre-teen in a mature young woman's body that we actually go along with the plot absurdities without questioning them. The script is jammed with coincidences: Jenna's parents (Baker and Reeves) happen to be away on a cruise, she continually bumps into key people on the streets of New York. But while the story is uninspired, the character development and dialog spark with sophisticated, grown-up humour. It's realistically funny and sexy. And there are several above-average set pieces--a full-on Thriller choreography, a slumber party to the strains of Love Is a Battlefield, a rather sweet montage to Billy Joel's perfectly chosen Vienna.

Meanwhile, the supporting cast keeps up with Garner very nicely indeed. Ruffalo is as charming and guileless as ever; Greer is the epitome of the smiling backstabber; Allen and Marquette are perfect as the younger Garner and Ruffalo; and as Jenna's boss, Serkis is somehow both hilarious and creepy at the same time. All of them toy with their characters wonderfully. And the film's first three-fourths is a delight to watch! Then the plot machinations kick in, undermining the clever set-up with a predictable final act. Less demanding audience members will laugh, cry and sob with joy right on cue. Viewers wanting something more original will quietly gag on their popcorn. But the really amazing thing is that this is good enough to banish all thoughts of Big until after it finishes.

cert 12 themes, innuendo, language 17.May.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... 13 Going on 30 Katie, M Town: 5/5 "This was the sweetest movie of the summer. Great for a girls night and how can we forget about the wonderful dance moves of Thriller." (22.Aug.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall