13 Going On 30 Review

Body/mind swap comedies are like buses - you wait long enough and two come along at once. Just as 1988 saw the release of both Tom Hanks' Big and Vice Versa, 2004 has seen the release of Freaky Friday (itself a remake of a remake) with Jamie Lee Curtis and 13 Going On 30 with flavour of the month, Jennifer Garner. Who said originality is dead in Hollywood?

13 Going On 30 should be a film aimed at young girls but given the 12 rating the audience has been severely limited. With such a small target it's important the film does something to bring in the crowds that usually wouldn’t be seen dead in a by-the-numbers rom-com. The story kicks off in 1987 where we're introduced to Jenna Rink, a 13 year-old schoolgirl with few friends. After a particularly disastrous party in which she ends up locked in a cupboard Jenna wishes she was grown up. The next morning she wakes to discover that she's now 30 years old, it's 2004 and she has no memory of the last 17 years.

As she struggles to come to terms with her new life as a magazine journalist with questionable morals, Jenna contacts Matt Flamhaff (Mark Ruffalo), an old school friend who just so happened to have a crush on her. With his support she begins to find her feet and slowly has a positive effect on all of those she comes in contact with. 13 Going On 30 is very much an uplifting film - there isn't a great deal to it and little in the way of new ground is covered, but it is harmless fun.

Jennifer Garner makes the film what it is - she effortlessly steps into the role of 30-year old Jenna Rink and draws on her past experience in Alias to take on the 'fish out of water' role. Along with Scarlett Johanson, she is one of the better new actresses currently working in American filmmaking. It's just a shame that her first headline role is such a vacuous film - if it wasn't for her presence, 13 Going On 30 would almost certainly be hitting the straight-to-DVD bargain bins up and down the country as I type.

Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings) shows his true features as Jenna's boss and does an adequate job - not particularly notable and it's hard to see him actually running a fashion magazine so there is definitely a need to switch off your brain. Judy Greer plays Jenna's two-faced colleague - again she's adequate, but her performance is entirely forgettable. Finally Ruffalo completes the main cast and again just seems to be going through the motions - he frequently seems bored. With Garner putting in such an effort, it's a shame the rest of the cast just don't seem able to measure up.

13 Going On 30 is literally the sum of its parts - there are no shocks or surprises and the one big revelation is pretty obvious from about ten minutes into the film. The direction is pedestrian with occasional flickers of something more, but these are fleeting and the cast, with the one obvious exception, largely seem to be treading water. Thankfully, for the film there's not really any need for more than this - it was never intended to be a cinematic blockbuster and is much more in line with Sunday afternoon family movies rather than a big crowd pleaser. 13 Going On 30 seeks to be nothing more than Big for the new century - and in that it succeeds.


13 Going On 30 is presented in a standard Armaray case and features one dual-layer disc. The menus are easy to navigate and suitably colourful without being irritating.


The film is given a nice, unremarkable anamorphic transfer in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There is some evidence of edge enhancement and some occasional grain but this is largely unnoticeable on standard displays - high end users may notice this more but it's not too distracting.

The colour palette is remarkably bright and is well captured with good shadow detail when it's (very rarely) needed. The transfer is not up to demo quality but there's little to complain about.


We have a reasonable, although again unremarkable, Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack which makes the most of the eighties musical numbers featured throughout the film. There's little call for any kind of directional or ambient sound effects and there's only minimal work out for the speakers - certainly nothing noteworthy at either the good or bad end of the audio spectrum.


The disc features an impressive array of extras including two commentaries, bloopers, featurettes and deleted scenes.

Director's Commentary and Producer's Commentary

The two commentary tracks are reasonably entertaining, although neither is a must. Director, Gary Winnick has quite a lot to say on the film and various scenes, and refreshingly he has no problem admitting where things didn't work. The second commentary by the film's producers Susan Arnold and Donna Arkoff Roth is a little less interesting but has the benefit of not being as closely tied to the film-making process.

Bloopers and Deleted Scenes

The bloopers are just that - there's nothing particularly exciting to say about something that is largely made up of Garner getting the giggles! There are 18 deleted scenes - quite an impressive selection but it's plain to see why they were all cut which thankfully means that any commentary would have been redundant had one been included.


Of three included featurettes the first two - 'The Making of a Teen Dream' and 'Making of a Teen Dream: Another take' are the usual press kit filler with cast and crew interviews. Worth a quick watch but not something to get excited about.

The other featurette, 'I Was a Teen Geek', is a little more fun as we get to see the cast divulging the geekiest things from their past - along with photos of them looking their worst during their formative years.

Other extras

The disc also features two music videos and the theatrical trailer - all of which are self explanatory and hold no surprises.


13 Going On 30 isn't a noteworthy film - it does exactly what it says on the tin; nothing more, nothing less. What it does have in its favour is a great performance by Jennifer Garner - someone set to become a big name in the future (I hesitate to say the familiar and overused 'next Julia Roberts' tag). The DVD release is again an unremarkable affair with good, but not great, picture and sound and a nice set of extra features.

6 out of 10
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out of 10

Last updated: 26/06/2018 08:39:24

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