13 Going on 30 is timeless and splendid

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13 Going on 30 (2004)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars.
Directed by Gary Winick
Written by Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa.
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis.
Budget: $37 million.
Gross: $96.5 million.

13 Going on 30 is a timeless rom-com that is as enjoyable on its thirtieth viewing as it is on the first.

The film opens in 1987 on the fourteenth birthday of Jenna Rink - not a total social outcast like her best friend Matty, but definitely not a member of the in-crowd. Jenna longs to be a member of a preppy clique, the “Six Chicks,” and wishes she could be “thirty, flirty, and thriving” like the models in Poise Magazine.

After being on the receiving end of an embarrassing prank, Jenna wishes she could be 30, and wakes up fully grown in 2004 to discover that all of her dreams came true. She became the queen of the Six Chicks in high school, and is now the sexy bitchy editor of Poise. Along the way she lost her best friend, her relationship with her parents, and her entire personality.

Jenna, now portrayed by Jennifer Garner, has to navigate the complexities of adulthood, piece together the sixteen years she missed out on, and make some effort to get her life back on track.

The story concept works together with an excellent soundtrack to inspire nostalgia in most viewers. All of us can relate to growing up too quick and struggling with regret for mistakes made and time wasted.

Garner perfectly embodies the awkward and innocent teenage spirit, even going so far as to gush over a fourteen-year old boy in a restaurant. Her girlish charm is intoxicating, and she has an incredible chemistry with Mark Ruffalo as adult Matty.

Christa B. Allen, Sean Marquette, and Alexandra Kyle were perfect as the younger versions of the primary characters. Allen and Kyle were perfectly cast, so much so that Allen went on to portray a younger Garner in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Marquette did a fine job, though he doesn’t much resemble Ruffalo.

Ten going on 25. Fifteen years have passed since I first saw this film, and I love it as much now as I did as a child. It’s great for all ages. In my youth I related to the younger Jenna and her longing to be grown already. Now I empathize with the adult Jenna, her desire to undo her mistakes, rekindle her lost friendships, and crawl into bed with her parents and feel like a kid again.

If you don’t like cheesy romantic comedies, 13 Going on 30 won’t win you to the genre. But anyone who likes to cry, laugh, and feel butterflies all in the same hour will likely name it among their favorites.