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"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 fucking bad.

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 Hebrew Hammer", "The Wedding 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 "Office Space"). 

"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, 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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09