13 Going on 30
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this gentle romantic comedy will appeal to older kids, tweens, teens (especially girls), and grown-ups, too. There are messages about popularity, values, and being true to yourself, delivered with insight and humor. Because the story places a 13-year-old girl in the body of a 30-year-old, the heroine's reaction to sexual situations is exaggerated and meant to be funny: "boob" talk, the beginnings of a striptease, a married man making a pass, mistaking sexual games for childhood board games, and finding a naked man in her apartment (no actual nudity). Characters flirt, kiss, wear some revealing clothes, and use mild profanity and sexual language ("jump your bones," "thingy" (referring to a man's unseen penis), "Are you gay?" "bitch," "hell"). There's some drinking (the lead enjoys that part of being a grown-up); marijuana and some mind-altering drugs are mentioned.
What's the story?
A girl who suffers total humiliation at her 13th birthday party wishes she could be 30. The next morning, she's all grown up, living in a swanky Manhattan apartment with a gorgeous face and figure (played by Jennifer Garner). That part is pretty exciting. But the guy in the shower who seems to know her pretty well is pretty scary. And she can't find her parents. Jenna races out of the building and a woman who seems to know her tells her to get into a limo and is talking a mile a minute about some job she seems to have as editor of Poise magazine. Jenna will eventually realize that this is what she wished for, but she will also figure out that it was not really what she wanted. She tracks down her very best friend, Matt (Mark Ruffalo), now a photographer. When he tells her he hasn't seen her since high school, she begins to understand that in order to become what she wished for, she has lost some of the things that mattered most.
Is it any good?
The script has some bright moments and nicely understated humor, despite all the expected collisions between the lives of the 13- and 30-year-olds being present here. Jenna raises her hand to be called on in a meeting, for instance, and responds "Ew, gross!" to the advances of her boyfriend. 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 is 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 is wonderfully open and vulnerable but she handles it lightly and with a lot of charm. And she captures it all perfectly, from her panic at not understanding what is 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.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how being a grown-up may be different than it appears to a child. What was the biggest surprise for Jenna?
Can you think of some other movies that use switching bodies as a plot device?
Families might also want to talk about the way middle-schoolers treat one another and how to make sure that you don't grow up with the kind of regrets that Jenna does. Is/was there a "6 Chicks"-type group in your school?
|Theatrical release date:||April 23, 2004|
|DVD/Streaming release date:||August 3, 2004|
|Cast:||Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Mark Ruffalo|
|Topics:||Magic and fantasy, Friendship|
|Run time:||98 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||some sexual content and brief drug references|