13 Going On 3013 Going on 30 on Blu-ray Disc

We thought this movie was going to be a ripoff of the Tom Hanks vehicle Big, an enjoyable flick from 1988.

It isn’t. While the concept of a kid waking up as an adult is similar, 13 Going on 30 is its own beast, a surprisingly good movie about choices and their consequences, peer pressure, and more. It uses the “waking up big” gimmick as a way to tackle some serious issues, while making you smile, laugh and even moistening your eyes a couple of times.

Jennifer Garner, who is absolutely outstanding in the role, is the adult Jenna Rink. But before we get to her we’re treated to a wonderful performance from Christa B. Allen as the young Jenna. She’s the ugly duckling to Garner’s swan, the plain girl who dreams of being part of the “in crowd” and who will do just about anything to be accepted.

So much so that for her 13th birthday party she has to bribe the “hot” girls to attend her party. And they do show up, but Jenna ends up humiliated and the last thing she does before “waking up big,” is to insult, humiliate in turn and ultimately push away her one true friend, a boy named Matt (the young Sean Marquette and the adult Mark Ruffalo).

Jenna is an unhappy child and she wants desperately to be 30 so she can be mature, beautiful and successful. And, obviously, she gets that wish and the rest of the movie teaches her to be careful what she wishes for.

So she wakes up at the age of 30. But this isn’t an older Jenna suddenly finding herself in young Jenna’s world. Jenna has in fact jumped forward 17 years in time, to the present day world in which the 30 year old Jenna lives.

She’s stunned, confused, and frightened. Mature Jenna has a life, a solid timeline that leads directly from that closet in her parents’ home where she made her wish to the current life about which she knows absolutely nothing. She’s still her pubescent self inside, and is completely shocked to find a naked man (her “real life” boyfriend) in her apartment, a guy who's blisslfully unaware that anything’s different about Jenna that particular morning.

She also learns that she has a high profile and high pressure career as a magazine editor and that her best friend is the same woman who was the leader of the gang of chicks of which she had wanted to be a part when she was 13.

She does fine in her new life, but she doesn’t like it and she doesn't like who she is. It turns out that the Jenna she grew up to be is a rather poisonous person, the antithesis of the young Jenna. Yet she learns through the course of the story that this is exactly the Jenna she built herself (shades of the chains hauled around by the ghost of Jacob Marley), starting on that fateful day of her 13th birthday.

She disgusts herself and she hates her life – but may have one chance at salvation: Matty! She seeks him out and basically forces him to befriend her again and they build the type of relationship she really wants.

Or so she hopes desperately. But Matty has moved on and is now engaged to be married.

How will it turn out? We won’t spoil it for you, but the movie does unfold in a very satisfactory way and other than the fantasy of traveling through time it’s quite believable.

Speaking of believable, we really give high marks to Jennifer Garner and Christa B. Allen. Allen is heartbreaking as the plain girl who wants to soar, a wonderfully believable performance. And Garner, well what can we say? She had us convinced within seconds that she was really 13 inside and we never lost that suspension of disbelief through the rest of the movie. A remarkable performance.

The supporting cast, which includes Judy Greer and Andy Serkis (who readers may remember as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Kong in Peter Jackson's remake of that classic – though his physical presence was replaced by CG characters in both those instances), is also excellent.

The screenplay and direction also work for the film and what we’re left with is a funny and touching movie we’re really glad we saw. And we didn’t expect much going in.

Highly recommended!

The Blu-ray is a pretty good example of the species. The picture is presented in 1080p widescreen (1.85:1) and for the most part it's very good. The image is generally very sharp and clean and the colors are excellent. There’s some grain noticeable in some scenes, but it won’t spoil your enjoyment of this remarkable movie.

Audio is DolbyTrueHDl 5.1 surround, though there isn’t a lot of surround, but the overall quality here is very good as well. Bass response is fine and the music tracks used as background sound very good as well.

The bottom line is that this probably won’t be used as a reference disc to sell HDTV’s, but it’s easily good enough for those interested in merely watching a good movie well presented.

You get quite a selection of extras, too. You get two running commentaries, 18 deleted scenes and a blooper reel as well as a featurette “I Was a Teenage Geek” which features a look at the high school years of some cast members including Jennifer Garner herself. “The Making of a Teen Dream” (you get two versions on the BD) gives you interviews with the talent on both sides of the camera. There are also music videos of songs used in the movie: Pat Benatar's “Love Is a Battlefield” and Rick Springfield's “Jessie's Girl.”

There’s also a gallery of stills, an alternate ending and a different beginning.

13 Going on 30, fromSony Pictures Home Entertainment
98 min. 1080p widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby True HD 5.1 surround
Starring Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis
Produced by Susan Arnold and Donna Arkoff Roth
Written by Josh Goldsmith & Cathy Yuspa, directed by Gary Winick

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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