A review of “13 Going on 30” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for language, sexual suggestion

Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

 

 

Jennifer Garner parlays cute into a successful romantic comedy rife with megawatt charm.

The notion of second chances has been done before in the likes of Big and Regarding Henry, but the concept bears repeating.  Haven’t we all turned our backs on something pure for the sake of acting adult?

Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen) yearns to be a member of the popular Six Chicks club.  Jenna wants cool so badly that she forsakes her best friend and first love, the nerdy Matt Flamhaff (Jack Salvatore, Jr.)

With hip 80s tunes perpetually pounding out a background beat, Jenna dreams of being “30 and Flirty and Thriving”, straight off the pages of hot and happening Poise Magazine.  A sprinkling of wishing-dust and a touch of movie magic and poof!, little girl makes good.

The new Jenna (Garner) is a hotshot editor at Poise, on the cutting edge of style and with a cutthroat manner in the boardroom.  Problem is she has no memory of herself past the age of her 13th birthday.  Among the many delightful surprises of her adult life are legal Pina Coladas, owning her own swanky apartment, and fending off a scary boyfriend who plays wing for the New York Rangers and has sex (yuk!) perpetually on the brain.

Seeking a familiar face, Jenna tracks down the adult Matt (Mark Ruffalo), an up-and-coming photographer who hasn’t laid eyes on Jenna since high school.  Jenna begs forgiveness for her vicious teen behavior and tries to right the wrongs of her past, with mixed results.

13 Going On 30 doesn’t have an original bone in its narrative body, but it coasts through on a large dose of Garner charm and sizzling chemistry between Garner and Ruffalo.  Supporting performances by gal-pal Judy Greer and Andy Serkis (LOTR’s Gollum) as Jenna’s flamboyant boss are nicely executed. Witty subplots and adult back-stabbing keep the action fresh, and that aforementioned 80s hit parade is a ton of fun.  Sweet and light.