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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Initially, 13-year-old Jenna is driven to be popular and have what she wants at any cost. But getting an unexpected look at herself at age 30 shows her that it's far more important to be kind, compassionate, generous, honest, and true to your own values and talents (i.e. to have integrity). And she begins to understand that, by making mistakes, she'll learn how to make things right.
Positive Role Models
Jenna goes from being a self-centered, awkward girl who's willing to do anything to be liked by the "in" group to an independent-thinking, unselfish, ethical young woman who becomes immune to peer pressure. Parents are supportive, understanding, and loving. The world of magazine publishing is presented as cutthroat, shallow, and materialistic. Little ethnic diversity. One featured gay character.
Violence & Scariness
The leading lady forcefully pushes a man away from her and follows with a kick to the crotch.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of double meanings, sexual references, and humorous sexual moments. It's all meant in fun as an innocent 13-year-old is unexpectedly thrust into adult situations. She discovers a naked man in her apartment (no actual nudity; she holds up an umbrella to cover him), squelches a pass from a married colleague, appreciates her new womanly body and sexy clothing, inappropriately flirts with a young teen boy, and ends up in a new acquaintance's apartment thinking the games he wants to play are Monopoly and Battleship. Romantic kissing.
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"Bulls--t," "Holy Christ," "damn," "ass," "bitch," "jump your bones," and some bodily references ("testicles," "balls," "butt" and "thingy," referring to a penis).
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Products & Purchases
Visuals of brands/products including Fed Ex, Bloomingdale's, Chanel, "For Dummies" books," Cole Haan, New York City's CBGB Club. Shots of Times Square with some businesses identified. Razzles candy plays a role in the story. The games Battleship and Monopoly are mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many scenes show social drinking. The 13-year-old in a 30-year-old body has her first experiences with adult beverages and gets slightly tipsy. An underage girl talks about buying beer. Marijuana and a couple of illegal drugs are mentioned briefly.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 13 Going on 30 is a sweet romantic comedy starring Jennifer Garner that will appeal to a wide range of viewers. Messages about popularity, compassion, personal values, and having integrity/being true to yourself are delivered with insight and humor. Because the story places a 13-year-old girl in the body of a 30-year-old, the main character's reaction to sexual situations is exaggerated and meant to be funny: There's "boob" talk, the beginnings of a striptease, a married man making a pass, mistaking sexual games for childhood board games, and the advent of a naked man (no actual nudity). Characters flirt, kiss, wear some revealing clothes, and use mild profanity and sexual language ("jump your bones," "bitch," "hell"). There's some drinking (the lead enjoys that part of being a grown-up); marijuana and mind-altering drugs are briefly mentioned. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This romcom offers some bright moments and nicely understated humor, despite all the expected collisions between the lives of the 13- and 30-year-old characters/instincts. Jenna raises her hand to be called on in a meeting, for instance, and responds "ew, gross!" to her boyfriend's advances. Ruffalo, as always, adds class and sweetness to the boyfriend role and has impressive delicacy in providing romantic interest for someone who is, after all, emotionally just 13 years old.
But what makes 13 Going on 30 work is Garner, who's enormously touching and hilarious as the 13-year-old living in the body and life of a 30-year-old. Playing a child in an adult body gives her license to show every emotion without any pretense of sophistication. She's wonderfully open and vulnerable, but she handles it lightly and with a lot of charm. And she captures it all perfectly, from Jenna's panic at not understanding what's going on to her rapture as she selects clothes and makeup for her grown-up self as though dressing a Barbie. Garner even gets the walk of a 13-year-old just right, from the shoulders, not the hips. And the look on her face as she does the dance to "Thriller" is so winning you won't just smile with her; you might just start to dance along a little.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.