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13 Going on 30: Fun & Flirty Edition DVD Review

13 Going on 30: Fun & Flirty Edition

March 7, 2006

Director: Gary Winick,
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis, Samuel Ball, Kathy Baker, Phil Reeves, Marcia DeBonis, Christa B. Allen, Sean Marquette, Kiersten Warren, Joe Grifasi,

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DVD Review

Despite the unoriginal premise (the movie Big recast with a woman), 13 Going on 30 (2004) is a very entertaining movie and this is due in large part to its star, Jennifer Garner, who brings to her role loads of charm. This movie is the perfect vehicle for the actress because it allows her to break away from the action hero persona that she cultivated with the T.V. show Alias and Daredevil (2003) and prove that she can do a romantic comedy.

Frustrated with being a geeky 13-year-old girl unable to break into the popular girl clique at school, Jenna Rink (Garner) makes a wish to be 30 years old. The next day she wakes up as an adult. She is no longer in the ‘80s and finds out that she works at a fast-paced New York City fashion magazine with the popular girl (Greer) from school now her best friend and co-worker. Unfortunately, Matt (Ruffalo), her best friend when she was 13, has lost touch with her over the years and become an up-and-coming photographer about to be married. Trouble arises when Jenna learns that the magazine she works for is in crisis – a rival magazine has been stealing their ideas thanks to a spy from within their own company!

Despite the jump in time the people in Jenna’s life are still basically the same. The popular girl from school is still sneaky and manipulative and Matt is still a well-meaning, nice guy. Mark Ruffalo is well cast as Garner’s love interest, playing a thoughtful, sensitive guy. He has great chemistry with her and together they make a cute couple. Matt still likes Jenna but he has moved on in life forcing her to realize how poorly she treated him when they were kids.

Garner, with her warm, disarming smile has a wholesome, girl-next-door quality that is quite endearing. She’s beautiful but not in an unattainable way. She also has natural comedic ability, for example, in one scene, Jenna livens up her magazine’s boring party with an impromptu dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” inspiring others to get up and dance as well. Garner also has a very expressive face that is perfect for the broad comedy of this movie. She is willing to take risks and make fun of herself. She is also willing to put herself out there and is not afraid to appear goofy and this only makes her that much more appealing.

Like Big (1988), much of the humour in 13 Going on 30 comes from a 13-year-old kid trapped in an adult body and the emotional innocence of this little girl clashing with the jaded, cynical adult world. Its target audience may be pre-teen girls but it also works for women of all ages, especially ones who grew up in the ‘80s. Jenna’s dream of living a glamourous life in New York City and this is the dream of a lot of girls. Garner not just plays a character that is inspiring for women but she is also sexy and vulnerable which is a huge appeal for men. We recognize ourselves in these characters and that’s what makes them so appealing. The film espouses a simple yet important message of being true to one’s self and to follow your heart and dreams. 13 Going 30 is proof that a film doesn’t have to be original to be good, just well-made. It hits all the right notes, features two appealing leads, is funny and entertaining and has all the ingredients of a comfort movie that you want to watch again and again.

Special Features:

13 Going On 30 is the victim of the dreaded double dip. If you already own the Special Edition version of the movie, the two new extras hardly warrant a re-purchase. Also, if you already own the previous edition you might want to hold onto it as the audio commentary by director Gary Winick and the commentary by producers Gina Matthews, Donna Arkoff-Roth, and Susan Arnold is not on this edition.

New to this edition is “Fashion Flashback: Into the 1980s” that features teen models gushing about how much they love the “retro” look of the ‘80s. It tells you what to look for and where to track down “authentic” clothes of that era. This featurette also dishes on make-up techniques of the ‘80s and shows how to put together your ideal combo.

“Making of a Teen Dream” takes us through the making of the movie in a fun, breezy way that is customary of most press kit type featurettes. One gets the impression that this was an enjoyable experience for all involved. The cast speak admiringly about each other in this self-congratulatory extra.

There is a “Bloopers” reel, a collection of blown lines and other assorted goofs that are quite cute.

Also included are two music videos, one for Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” and another for “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield that allows you to immerse yourself in pure ‘80s cheese.

The most enjoyable extra is “I Was A Teenage Geek.” The cast talk about what they were like in the ‘80s. Garner was a band geek while Ruffalo was pretty close to his character in the movie, and Greer was an art class nerd. They all tell amusing stories of what they were doing in high school with photos of what they looked like at the time.

There is also an “Alternate Beginning and Ending” that features different actors playing Jenna and Matt when they were kids. The scene is about the same length as what is in the movie but is edited differently. We get more detail on Jenna’s desire to be one of the popular girls. Thankfully, these were not used.

Finally, there are 15 deleted scenes with more footage of Jenna and Matt at the magazine party and so on. These scenes flesh out the relationships between the characters.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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