Movie review

Apr 282004
Authors: Jeremy Anderson


“13 Going on 30”

Jennifer Garner (“Daredevil,” TV’s “Alias”) gives butt-kicking a

rest to try her hand at romantic comedy with “13 Going on 30,” her

first leading-lady role in a major motion picture. Although the

comparisons to “Big” are inescapable, the film has enough

distinction and charm to make it an allowable revisit of a familiar


Garner plays Jenna Rink, a 30-year-old fashion magazine editor

who, until just recently, was a 13-year-old girl enduring the

social pains of young teen-age life. Her rapid transformation

occurs thanks to, what else, a packet of wishing dust and a desire

to leave her youth behind.

Jenna eventually learns that during the time lapse of her age

spurt, she became a self-centered snob who has put her career over

everything and everyone else in her life. Naturally, the

13-year-old within her seeks to set right the wrongs caused by her

adult self.

The main goal on her agenda is to track down Matty, a

neighbor/friend from her childhood whose heart she broke

immediately before she jumped ahead 17 years. Matt, played by Mark

Ruffalo, is no longer the chubby kid Jenna remembers and she

quickly develops the kind of feelings for him that he felt for her

many years ago. The only problem is that Matt not only harbors hurt

feelings because of Jenna rejecting him in the past, but he is also

now engaged to another woman.

An unintentional awkwardness unfortunately pervades throughout a

lot of the movie, but there are a few good laughs and some positive

messages. The movie may mistakenly cause girls, or maybe some guys

too for that matter, to think they can fix their mistakes by

tracking down some wishing dust themselves, but it does promote

some good lessons about the consequences of making bad choices in


Contained within “13 Going on 30” is about every romantic comedy

clich� known to Hollywood. A scene where a group of girls

dance around and lip-sync to a popular song? Check. A scene where a

main character races desperately to stop a wedding from happening?

Check. How about a scene where everyone takes part in a

choreographed dance sequence? Check. Although I will say this last

scene somehow manages to be more funny than embarrassing.

Even when the movie isn’t winning over the audience with

greatness or originality, it is still pretty entertaining to watch.

“13 Going on 30” is first and foremost a star vehicle intended to

propel Jennifer Garner’s movie career, and she exudes such

enthusiasm and gusto in the role that the movie will likely

accomplish this goal. You can tell she is having such a blast in

the movie herself that her fun level becomes infectious, which

helps to forgive the film some of its faults.

The movie is largely a female fantasy, but isn’t completely

painful for guys. Garner’s girl-next-door hotness has earned her a

large fan base of adoring male fans and Ruffalo has such a great

guy’s-guy type of quality that he helps to balance out some of the

film’s giddiness.

Maybe it’s just that I am a big fan of Garner and Ruffalo, who

work great together by the way, or maybe it’s that a few of the

film’s plot developments hit home for me, or maybe “13 Going on 30”

actually is a good movie; either way, I liked it just enough to


3 out of 4

“Man on Fire”

The latest addition in a recent string of violent, revenge

movies stars Denzel Washington as Creasy, a man out to find and

kill the people responsible for the kidnapping of a young girl,

played by perennial kidnap victim Dakota Fanning (see


I usually appreciate director Tony Scott’s in-your-face, stylish

approach to filmmaking, but he uses his signature style to such

overkill here, including an incredibly awful experiment with

subtitle use, that it becomes grating.

The performances are rather superb and the storyline involving,

however not only is the pre-kidnapping section of the film

surprisingly better, but Creasy never gets much, if any, of the

character development and hinted-at back story that he so badly

needs and the audience deserves.

2.5 out of 4


“13 Going on 30”


1 hour 37 minutes

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Holiday Twin Drive-In

“Man on Fire”


2 hours 26 minutes

Carmike 10, Cinemark 16, Holiday Twin Drive-In

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