13 Going On 30

6 out of 10


Can you hear that, sir? Can you hear the music?

For anyone who has ever had the feeling that they were thrown into the adult world unprepared, this new comedy, directed by well-known Hollywood producer Gary Winick ("Uptown Girls," "Charlotte's Web") and written by husband-and-wife team Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa ("King of Queens"), is for you. An entertaining, light-hearted and off-the-wall version of child-to-adult predecessors "Big" and "Freaky Friday," it contains flashbacks of life in high school for those who grew up in the 80's, pokes fun of life at work in the new millennium and offers some advice for those who have occasionally felt they missed out on what should have been the best of both.

Adults are well-known for the often quoting the old adage "Don't grow up too fast," but 13-year-old Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen in her first big screen role) is not only about to grow up fast but is about to be hit with an overnight midlife crisis, literally. Feeling out of place in school and misunderstood at home, Jenna spends hours daydreaming about Rick Springfield, class heartthrob Chris Grandy (Alex Black) and praying to be more like the cool "Six Chicks" led by Violet Beauregarde-ish Tom-Tom (Alexandra Kyle).  Following a disastrous 13th birthday party, Jenna emerges from her basement closet to find herself not older but also a wealthy and successful editor, the owner of a fabulous New York apartment and engaged to a hockey superstar (Samuel Ball). Life amongst the rich and famous, is however, not without it's downside. Instead of escaping her 13 year old life and becoming "thirty, flirty and thriving," Jenna finds she has become underhanded and sneaky as an adult and feels driven to apply some of good old fashioned morality from her 13 year old life, as she attempts to turn back time and rescue her 30 year old self to come to terms with the mistakes of her past.

While surprisingly well-directed for a nearly first time effort, the picture does have it's sour moments. Often more like an extended after school special, it never quite reaches the heights required by a motion picture and treads the fine line of attempting to appeal to kids and adults, and becomes too immature for both. It's one saving grace is undoubtably the outstanding performance of Jennifer Garner ("Alias"). Appearing as the 30 year old Jenna, like a current day Audrey Hepburn, she gives an effervescent performance - quirky, unabashed and bold, with her over-the-top gestures and excellent use of physical comedy, she is captivating and humorous. Her scene where she attempts to find her ringing cell phone, is nearly worth the price of admission. Unfortunately even with the slapstick humor and an appearance by the usually excellent Judy Greer ("What Women Want" and "The Wedding Planner"), the picture seems to fall victim to it's own jokes and treads on a sitcom level. Mark Ruffalo also as Jenna's high school friend Matt gives an equally drab and almost non-existant performance, leaving only British actor Andy Serkis as flamboyant editor Richard Kneeland with any interesting lines.

Not bad entertainment for a rainy weekend at home, it is cute and winsome comedy - if you can sit through some of the more pretentious scenes and music that was bad enough first time around in the 1980's. Although as a whole the story and plot are weak, Winick, Goldsmith and Yuspa were brave enough to take a jab at an often shallow world of the fashion and entertainment business, leaving some heartwarming and valuable wisdom from the 13-year-old in all of us.

Sweet family drama

Film Critic: Jennifer Megan Lillies