13 Going on 30: A young head on old shoulders
16 years after ‘Big’ was released, Gary Winick copied the idea but switched Tom Hanks out for Jennifer Garner and threw Mark Ruffalo into the mix to appeal to the female audience. Let’s see how it fares against its precursor.
It’s 1987. The exact same year ‘Big’ was set. *Disappointed sigh and despondent shake of the head*. It’s Jenna Rink’s 13th birthday, which unfortunately, for her, falls upon school picture day. ‘The Six Chicks’, middle school version of the Plastics from ‘Mean Girls’, ( Which was out the same year as ’13 Going on 30′. 2004 was dominated by catty teenage princesses) use animal insults and emotional blackmail to get an invite to Jenna’s party. Jenna is more than happy to do their group report for them.
A) A research-loving geek
B) A 13 year old who has watched ‘The Breakfast Club’ all too often
Or is it…
C) A very dull little girl with a lot of time on her hands
Only time will tell. Like all good movies set in the ’80’s, our female protagonist, Jenna, has one male best friend that also happens to be her next door neighbour. He’s called Matty. They walk home from school together and share packs of Razzles. Jenna gets ready for her birthday gathering and envies models in their 30s. She is dancing to ‘Thriller’ when Matty brings in his gift to her: A personalised dollhouse with their faces in it (and the face of Rick Springfield) and magic dust. The Six Chicks (Brie Larson and Ashley Benson both play one) and their male counterparts arrive and Jenna sends Matty off with a reiterated remark. Now the fun can begin. Tom-Tom, the leader of The Six Chicks , blindfolds her and puts her in the wardrobe. They all leave but have the decency send Matty to get her. When he reveals himself, she puts the blindfold back on and screams that she hates everything. She’s making quick work of this teenager thing. She repeats “Thirty and flirty and thriving” over and over until the magic dust from the dollhouse grants her, her somewhat indistinct wish.
She wakes up, 17 years later, in a an apartment in New York City (The ‘Big’ allusions are indisputable). Bewildered by where she is and who the strange man in her shower is, she runs out of the house and into the city. Missing 17 years of technological advancement also doesn’t help the confusion. She gets in the car of an older, but none the wickeder, Tom-Tom, who now works with her at Poise magazine. They get to the office and gather round a conference table, talking about their arch nemesis, Sparkle magazine. Jenna sends a secretary to locate where Matty lives nowadays then rushes out of the building to find him. She invites herself into his house, Matty assumes she’s on drugs. Turns out the two drifted apart, in high school, after Jenna’s Six Chicks initiation. This information sends her into a panic attack and Matty gives her a pillow then carefully summarises what have happened in the past two decades. Even though Matty hasn’t spoke a word to her in 13 years, he knows an astonishing amount about her personal life. He leaves and Jenna utilizes her newly discovered wardrobe for a work party.
She has a limousine take her to the gathering. She drinks a piña colada on what would be a school night. Jenna, you rascal. People start leaving the party. Jenna decides it’s perfect time to dance to ‘Thriller’. Matty makes the mistake of walking in at that time and is dragged into the routine. It isn’t long before everyone is dancing like zombies.
Like so many others before her, (namely, Josh in ‘Big’) she adapts to adult life but keeps her youthful flair. And taste in men. She comes off a little strong towards a child in a restaurant. While waiting for a taxi outside, to flee in case the police are already on their way, she sees Matt and his fiancée. As it so happens, she also has a partner. A famous ice hockey player. And an affair with a husband of one of her coworkers.
A walk with Matty reveals that on the pivotal 13th birthday, she threw the dollhouse at him and their friendship never recovered. ‘Vienna’ by Billy Joel plays as she makes her way back home and hides herself in the cupboard, destroying her parents ornaments by knocking them off the shelf and nearly breaking her back. This is supposed to be her redemption arc. She freeloads off her parents, who she hasn’t talked to in years then returns to work, a new woman. She now dresses modestly and has a little self-reliance. Her first order of business is hiring Matty as her photographer. They team together to destroy Tom-Tom’s confidence then get Razzles afterwards. Just like old times. She tells all of this to a bunch of teenagers her mental age having a sleepover next door. They all jump up and down on the bed and wear gaudy scarves.
The day of the magazine design proposal has came. Lucy’s (Tom-Tom’s real name?) doesn’t go well and she throws Fed-Ex signs at people’s heads. Probably where Jenna got it from. They take Jenna’s proposal on board (I wonder were I’ve seen that before). So, naturally, Tom-Tom makes sure she’s out of a job by going through her things and back stabbing her. Like she did back in the day.
Jenna’s depressed because…
1) She’s unemployed
2) She’s friendless
3) Everything her adult self has ever worked for has been destroyed in a New York minute
And to top it off, it’s Matty’s wedding day. She gets a taxi ride from a guy she went to prom with but upon realising his identity, decides running is the better option. She enters Matty’s parents house without being invited in (Now she’s 30, she doesn’t need permission. Trespassing is fine if you don’t get caught). She makes Matt feel guilty about not marrying her then starts crying about what an awful person she’s been. Yeah, yeah. Matty gives her the transformative dollhouse and she runs away with it. We don’t hear her wish, apparently the dollhouse is telepathic, also. Seriously, where did Matty buy this stuff?
And Jenna is 13 years old again, in a cupboard, in the basement. She knocks Matty to the ground, bullies Tom-Tom and…runs away. We get a glimpse of Matty and Jenna getting married, moving into their dream house (The magic dollhouse but bigger. You’d think after all the trouble it caused her she’d want to burn it, not live in it) and eat Razzles once more. It’s bittersweet. The Thriller dance will never take place now and 6 teenage girls will miss out on life experience from Jenna, the wise. I watched 80 minutes worth of events that will never take place just because Jenna did someone else’s homework. Neat.
Student: Move it, Dorkis!
Jenna: Razzle, Mr Flamhaff?
Matt: Thank you, Mrs Flamhaff.
Arlene: Eminem’s on the phone; he wants an answer now.
Jenna: Umm… plain. Peanut? Plain!
The good: Using ‘Vienna’ by Billy Joel
The bad: The way they used ‘Vienna’ by Billy Joel
The funny: ‘Thriller’
Best character: Matty and Richard
Worst character: 30 year old Jenna
Moral of the story: Let people do their own homework. Don’t buy wishing dust from suspicious shops/vendors. Never trust a guy who gifts you a present with your face stuck onto a doll in a bathtub, then keeps it in storage for 15+ years.
“We need to remember what used to be good”