Jennifer Garner has an electric presence (rather fitting that she is in
pre-production for "Elektra"). She simply dazzles on screen with her wide grin
and a killer curvaceous body. She also has ample charm and a dynamic
physicality that makes you want to join her up in the screen. The press is
already saying she is the next Julia Roberts and they are right.
"13 Going on 30" is Garner's first major leading role as Jenna Rink, a
30-year-old fashion magazine editor in New York City. However, she doesn't feel
30 at all - when she was 13, she made a wish to be 30 (all it took was some
sprinkling wishing dust). And presto, she is 30! She has bigger breasts, no
braces, a handsome boyfriend (some hockey player), a bitchy co-worker, a
fast-talking, goateed boss, a nice apartment, an autograph by Madonna, and a
limo service to go to any party. She seems to have it all until she realizes
she had sold ideas to a rival magazine, had ignored her parents and, even
worse, ignored her best friend Matt since high school. The grown-up Matt (Mark
Ruffalo) is a photographer who is confused by Jenna's need to be friends with
him again. Meanwhile, Jenna shows she is caring and can dance a storm,
especially to Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
"13 Going on 30" is sort of the female version of Tom Hanks' "Big," but the
difference is she switches bodies in her mind (unless that wishing dust can
really work miracles. It is never made clear). The humor quotient is derived
from the adult Jenna's lack of memory of what happened to her since she was 13.
But what makes the movie irresistible is Garner's convincing notion of a
13-year-old girl inside a 30-year-old body. She plays it to the hilt, calling
grown men "gross," getting a group of 13-year-olds together to talk about love,
confused by the ringing of cell phones, responding with a chuckle to being
called a bitch and having to repeat it, looking away with disgust at hairy
bare-chested men, and so on. Garner is so damn convincing that she makes the
movie worthwhile since she occupies almost every single scene.
But there are screenwriting fallacies that may make you wince (you'll remember
them after you are finished laughing). For one, doesn't anyone in the entire
movie ever realize she acts and talks like a 13-year-old girl? Not even her
parents. Not one at the office especially. And what seems like a
cringe-inducing sequence where Jenna delivers the new look for the magazine
(something to do with photo collages) is not given the proper payoff. Or let me
just say that the editor-in-chief should've known better than to react the way
The star of the movie is clearly Jennifer Garner and, flaws aside, she makes
the movie her own. She also has a nice rapport with Mark Ruffalo in what may be
his most sincere performance yet. "13 Going on 30" will make you laugh and for
audiences nowadays, that may be enough.
Copyright © 2004 Jerry Saravia