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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo ©Copyright Revolution Studios ©2004 Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. All Rights Reserved)

photo caption:
A CHILD'S DREAM COME TRUE: Jenna (Jennifer Garner) finds herself magically transported into her thirty-year-old adult woman's body even though she still retains her thirteen-year-old personality. Now she has the delightful opportunity to play dress up with her new adult wardrobe.
end caption.


13 Going on 30: Escapist Comedy Aimed at Adolescents Revives Familiar Theme

Kam Williams

Adolescence can be a very awkward period for kids caught between puberty and adulthood. These "tweeners" often find themselves trying to adjust to their rapidly changing bodies while negotiating a social minefield dotted with cruel peers.

Over the years, Hollywood has made many fantasy films about people in this lonely age transformed into and adult body while still retaining their pre-pubescent personality, most notably, Big (1988) with Tom Hanks. Hanks played a 12 year-old who wakes up in an adult body after his wish to be older was granted by Zoltar, a machine genie at a carnival.

In 13 Going on 30, Jennifer Garner (TV's Alias) plays Jenna, an ostracized ugly duckling who gets turned into an attractive and talented 30-year-old after being sprinkled with magical wishing dust. The fable opens in New York City in 1987 with Jenna just about at the end of her emotional rope.

She's been mercilessly teased by a clique of girls, barely noticed by the boy of her dreams, and embarrassed by her parents. Her low self-esteem bottoms out at her own 13th birthday party when she's deliberately locked in a closet as a cruel joke.

Humiliated, Jenna makes a wish to be "Thirty, Flirty & Thriving" like the woman on the cover of Poise Magazine. Then, abracadabra!, some sparkles spill off a shelf onto her head, and the formerly insecure wallflower emerges from the closet suddenly 30 years-old; glamorous, vivacious, and living in her own Upper East Side apartment. Plus, the handsome man in her shower is a professional hockey player and her ready made boyfriend.

Jenna has no inkling what happened to her between 1987 and 2004, and worse, she is still a girl who's only 13. The ensuing humor emanates from the familiar conflict betwen a child's personality functioning in an adult body.

Although she appreciates some aspects of being adult, such as having developed an ample bosom, she's repelled when her boyfriend approaches her lasciviously. This naive innocent is attracted to the younger boys who are the age of her thirteen-year-old personality.

There's the complication of her job as an editor at Poise Magazine which clashes with her desire to ride a swing in the park, dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller, and eat candy like Razzles and Pop Rocks. There's a predictable sidebar about Matt (Mark Ruffalo), the boy whose puppy love Jenna had left unrequited 17 years before. By 2004, he has become very attractive, however, he's about to marry a TV weatherwoman in Chicago who's not right for him.

Overall, 13 Going on 30 is a rehash of familiar material, but the engaging Garner is charismatic enough to make it magical.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated PG-13 for adult themes, profanity, violence, sexual humor, and drug references.


end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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