Tardy Critic’s review published on Letterboxd:
2004 was before I was paying attention to movies. I mean, I knew they existed as a “thing” but I wasn’t paying any attention to what movies were coming out (aside from Lord of the Rings) and I wasn’t seeing many (any) of them in theaters… except Lord of the Rings…
Which is all just a long way of saying I had never seen 13 Going on 30 until now. Anyway, WOW! This movie has an all-star cast. Bruce Banner, Cheryl Tunt, Envy Adams, Andy Serkis, and Jim Gaffigan!
WOW! Granted, this was before some of them became those other people, but still… As far as movies go, the plot is a little like It’s a Wonderful Life meets A Christmas Story in the form of a rom-com.
Overall I would say that it was a fun and entertaining movie, even if a lot of the humor stems from that high school awkwardness and cluelessness that we (read: I) am so desperately trying to forget. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but the themes within the film are actually really deep.
If you are just looking for a fun and silly flick without much substance, this movie will happily oblige. If you’re looking for something a little deeper that subtly speaks to the insecurity and turmoil which occupies the insides of the human consciousness… it has some of that too, but you’ll have to think about it for a while.
In essence the script lightly touches on The Butterfly Effect and is really a coming of age story. A 13-year-old girl is transported into a 30-year-old woman’s world, very much like Freaky Friday but thankfully with much less Lindsay Lohan… (Spoiler alert, Mean Girls came out on April 30, 2004.) I don’t know if I would ever admit it to anyone, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for rom-coms. Though this one felt a little different to me.
Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but when I’m thinking rom-com I’m thinking Failure to Launch, Hitch, or Crazy, Stupid, Love. The stereotypical plot is boy meets girl, boy tries to win girls affection, something goes wrong, everyone’s happy at the end. (Or girl meets boy, and it’s the other way around, whatever.)
The plot to 13 Going on 30 is more of a self discovery movie where we watch Jennifer Garner spend 45 minutes trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. A process which was accomplished in a fantastically short 98 minutes, whereas I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it for a good 9 years, and still don’t have a clue what I’m doing.
The romance aspect of the film seems almost accidental, or at very least secondary. Jenna’s goal is never to win over the love of her life, but rather seems to almost be a consequence of trying to accomplish her job at her… em… job.
The script really plays up the fact Jenna continues to think about herself as 13 years old, living in 1987, forgetting that it’s now 2004. I’d like to think that, personally, I would be much better at adapting to the future, but having never been a 13 year old girl, and actually never having been 30 years old as any gender, I’m not sure I can identify with the cognitive dissonance that might occur in her given situation. The changes in responsibility over the course of 17 years is mind-boggling even in real-time, I can’t imagine having to take it in all at once. If this ever happens to me, I hope my friends are a bit more understanding about my attempts to explain 17 years of amnesia suddenly occurring once night for no reason in particular.
Honestly, the last three quarters of the movie should have been spent in a hospital or some type of therapy. But I digress. IMDB users have rated the film as a 6.1/10, and I would say that’s a pretty accurate in my opinion. If you haven’t seen the film and are looking for something cute, fun, and light, this movie will not disappoint.
Review by Phil Wels