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"Thirteen"

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke.
Written by Catherine Hardwicke and Nikki Reed.
Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Nikki Reed and Holly Hunter.
Release Year:  2003 

Review Date:  9/3/03 

Folks-- 

Ahh, I remember being 13 years old.  I was a loser (hopefully, that has changed), had the braces, glasses that were so large you couldn’t tell I had cheekbones, and I was gangly as all get out.  For kicks after school, I used to play Lazer Tag with my boys Chi-hung, Jeff Wang and Denny Adams; on weekends, our foursome would go to Putt-Putt Golf and Games for Super Saturdays.  You know the drill:  unlimited golf, 20 tokens, the hot dog and the Coke, all for something sick, like $7 from 8 AM – noon every Saturday of the year.  I came home from school, did my homework, played video games, and on certain nights and weekends, played Little League ball.  I had some female friends, but I was certainly not “hangin’ out” with any females, if you know what I mean.  But, I remember seventh grade being some good times.

Ahh, “Thirteen.”  Smart, nice, attractive Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood; don’t worry, I didn’t think there were any girls named “Evan” either) likes her loser friends but would love to trade up, so she makes advances towards super-cool hottie Evie (Nikki Reed) with hopes of changing her social class for the better.  After proving herself by jacking a wallet from a woman’s purse on Rodeo Drive, Evie allows Tracy into her circle, much to the chagrin of her struggling single-mom beautician (Holly Hunter), who senses that things are about to get intense with Evie around, and boy, is she right.  Shoplifting is just the tip of the iceberg, as we ride the Grizzly with this terrible twosome through drug use, drug dealing, rampant sex acts, unnecessary dieting, self-inflicted torture, and more over the course of its 90-minute running time.

In fact, by the time we meet Evie’s “guardian” Brooke (Deborah Unger) and learn that Brooke has had some...surgery, I was in shock overload and was wishing the film would figure out a way to turn it down a notch.  Not because the things Tracy goes through were too intense for me, I just didn’t see where director Catherine Hardwicke would take her film towards any logical conclusion.  I can believe that there are girls like this out there, but as I described in the first paragraph, I am as far from what these girls are as is possible, so by the THIRD FUCKING SCENE where Tracy is cutting her arms with some scissors because she is upset, I literally turned to my friend Lauren and said “Okay, I get that she needs to cut herself.  Why did I need to see that again?”  As you can imagine, all of the parents drink or smoke in this film as ways to forget themselves; Evie has a seemingly endless string of coke she deals to other kids in school; where does she get it?  I don’t know much about belly-button piercings, but it felt like something was glazed over after THAT scene in the film.  Tracy gets attacked by two girls after school; for what?  They’re never seen again.  “24” star Sarah Clarke shows up as a friend of the Hunter character; Clarke’s character just seems to kind of be around, like she had a bigger part but it was partially cut in the editing room.  You have random scenes with chickens, pigs, deadbeat dads and Kip Pardue, with the best line of the film:

“Yeah, right...jailbait!!”

The film is very well-acted; although it was frequently ridiculous, the performance by Wood was truly remarkable and Hunter was in fine form.  I was intrigued by the fact that these two white girls only hook up or have sex with black guys throughout the film and no one makes any note of this; I didn’t need an explanation, I just was surprised by how that element was handled.  The soundtrack is great, and the shaky-camera cinematography worked with this kind of movie.  As an added bonus, you have a scene where one character uses the C-word on another for no apparent reason.  LOVE useless profanity.

But, I just left the theater feeling like “Thirteen” was way overdone for shock value.  This might be the most overrated film of the summer.  Alright, but not great.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

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 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 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/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09