"13 Going on 30"
Directed by Gary Winick.
Written by Cathy Yuspa, Josh Goldsmith and Niels Mueller.
Starring Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 4/30/04
We're working through a fairly slow stretch
here until "Troy" opens in two weeks, so for now, romantic comedies
and INCREDIBLY-suspicious plot ripoffs like "13 Going on 30" are
going to have to do.
It doesn't take a flick genius to see that
this new Jennifer Garner film looks a helluva lot like the Tom Hanks
classic "Big", not itself an incredibly original premise but one
that has rarely found peer in terms of its comedy. In "13
Going on 30", little Jena is struggling through her 13th birthday
when she gets blindfolded, sprinkled with wishing dust and...awakens
in her New York City penthouse, 30 years old, rich, successful and
hot! Although she's not sure how she has missed the last 17
years, she knows that she has to somehow win the heart of her old
grade-school buddy Matty (Mark Ruffalo) before he goes off and, you
know, marries his fiancée ASAP.
No lie: during the intro 13-year old
scenes, I seriously considered getting up and leaving, because this
is some of the worst child acting I have ever, fucking EVER seen.
Christa B. Allen, the "actress" who portrays young Jena, was so bad
that I was comically guffawing as she tried to seem upset that she
wasn't the coolest girl in school. She was unbelievably
Then, we get some of the worst movie footage
this year as Garner--who really does seem to be working hard during
this atrocity--gives us her take on how a 13-year-old would act in
an adult body. Jeez, I couldn't even believe how bad Ruffalo
was in this film. The chemistry between the two leads is
barely lukewarm--which makes sense at first, since his character
hasn't seen her character in roughly ten years--and then proceeds to
get worse all film long. A dance scene featuring "Thriller"
early on should have been good, or inspiring, or at least have some
of that little magic that even made a similar scene in "Black
Knight" funny...but, to no avail. Left to play the part of bad
guy, co-star Judy Greer ("The
Planner") says all of her lines like the offscreen script supervisor
instructed Greer to enunciate for evil effect...too bad all of her
written lines are so lame that my fairly-packed audience either
didn't feel the sneer or didn't feel it was worth addressing with
sighs or laughter.
The ending is a bailout (damn that
realism!). Crazy-close to the Bridget Moynahan part in
"Serendipity", Matty's fiancée is portrayed as a loving, caring
woman for pretty much the whole movie, yet I'm supposed to root for
Jena to win Matty from the fiancée? Andy Serkis, so good as
Gollum in the "LOTR" series, plays the vamping magazine
editor-in-chief as well as anyone looking for a paycheck. The
hot song of the moment in 1987 is supposed to be "Thriller"? I
thought that came out in '81.
All of this, plus the fact that "13 Going on
30" just flat-out blows, was enough for this one to lock up Hard
Vice status very early in the running. The slightly good news
about this film is that it made a shitload of cash last weekend, so
at least we'll be getting more of Garner soon...hopefully, in
something worth my $6.50 matinee ticket.
Rating: Hard Vice
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard