Re-Watch: 13 Going on 30 (2004)

13 Going on 30
Director: Gary Winick
Writer: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis, Kathy Baker, Phil Reeves, Sam Ball, Marcia DeBonis, Christa B. Allen, Sean Marquette, Mary Pat Gleason
Seen on: 4.5.2021

After being humiliated at her own 13th birthday party, Jenna (Christa B. Allen) wishes that she was 30 years already – and it seems that the birthday present she got from her best friend Mattie (Sean Marquette) grants her her wish. For the very next day, she wakes up an adult (Jennifer Garner), in a fancy apartment and working the job of her dreams as an editor at Poise magazine. It’s not easy to get her bearings in her new life, though. Jenna looks for Mattie to help her, but adult Matt (Mark Ruffalo) informs her that they haven’t been friends for a while. And when Jenna realizes more and more that her adult self isn’t a nice person, she decides to make a change.

I must have seen 13 Going on 30 when / shortly after it came out and I had very fond memories of it. Re-Watching it now, those fond memories were proven right: it is a cute, fun film and exactly the kind of thing I want to see when I am watching a RomCom.

The film poster showing Jenna (Jennifer Garner) wearing a nightgown and a jacket as she walks with the skyline of New York behind her.

I’m not saying that 13 Going on 30 is without issues. I mean, for one, it is an instance of “the woman has to learn to be better, while the man has always been great and doesn’t need to develop at all” which I find to be a rather aggravating trope. But it is so charming while it’s at it, that I can’t be too angry at the film for that.

It is probably the best thing Jennifer Garner has ever done. The way she just embodies being 13 years old (but having suddenly adult responsibilities), Jenna’s unbroken passion and idealism, her self-unconsciousness, how she feels so incredibly wise – it is utterly captivating, and extremely fun to watch. And Mark Ruffalo’s Matt is a perfect counterpart, sweetness personified, but also a lot more serious, he is understandably drawn to a person he though he had lost.

Jenna (Jennifer Garner) on the phone.

There is certainly magic between the two, the most important ingredient for any RomCom. But the film has the advantage of also being honestly funny on top of that. I mean, yeah, sometimes it’s a little too clichéd (Jenna’s entire relationship with Lucy [Judy Greer], for example), but there are also simply fantastic moments – the sleepover at Jenna’s place (though I do wonder how the girls explained that to her parents).

In any case, 13 Going on 30 is a film that leaves with you a huge grin on your face – and what more could you want from it?

Jenna (Jennifer Garner) and Matt (Mark Ruffalo) looking at something together.

Summarizing: super sweet.

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