Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I'm just adding salt for effect

Two movies in two days! My mom and younger sis wanted to watch 13 Going On 30 and who am I to resist watching this fun movie on the big screen? Right? It's fun to watch the Alias girl doing comedy for a change and kudos to her and Director Gary Winick for this. The film is about Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner), a young girl entering the turbulent thirteenth year in the year 1987. As far as normal teenagers go the sense of wanting to belong to the most popular group in school became her obsession. She started getting embarrassed with the actions of her parents, she was embarrassed to be seen with her guy best friend, Matty (Mark Ruffalo). Things came to a head on her thirteenth birthday, she thought she failed to impress the most popular clique and jock on campus and blamed her best friend for it. Locking herself inside the closet she wished she was 30 years old (the age she thinks women achieve the ultimate in coolness) and that's exactly what happened. Specks of wishing dust fell off the doll house Matt gave her and magically transported her to this year where thanks to the magic dust, wishes do come true with gobs of bonus thrown in to boot. Not only is she the managing editor of her favorite fashion magazine, Poise, but she's also the lucky girlfriend of the most famous American hockey player.

She retains her 13 year old self inside her 30 year old body and since nothing makes sense she runs to the only source of security she has, her old best friend Matt. Matt is now a freelance photographer who's doing okay with the occasional assignments he gets and he's also still smarting from the betrayal he got from his best friend when they were thirteen. So it comes as something of a big shock to see Jenna knocking on his door spouting confusion and disbelief that she jumped through seventeen years without ever recalling everything that happened. The polite guy that he is, he reluctantly gave her a tour back through memory lane of those things she did to break the friendship in exchange for popularity. Meanwhile back at her job at the magazine, her best friend and assistant editor Lucy (Judy Greer) and supervisor, Richard (Andy Serkis) are in over their heads in figuring out how to increase their sales and remain two steps ahead of their competitor, Sparkle. Being an innocent teenager herself (at least on the inside) she came up with spontaneous ideas that had them recalling the fun things they had when they were teenagers. Richard absolutely adored her and considered her golden until another problem cropped up. The owners of the magazine company were threatening to cancel the title unless they do a total overhaul of the magazine's image and they needed to see those ideas in a couple of weeks. During this time Lucy and Jenna had a falling out in their friendship (Lucy was the leader of the popular clique during their school days before Jenna dethroned her) while Jenna and Matty's friendship were rekindled and levels of intimacy were starting to creep in to that friendship. They teamed up to execute an idea Jenna had for the magazine (which Richard and the rest of the staff preferred as opposed to Lucy's edgy "fashion suicide" proposal) and it seems that everything's going up and nothing could possibly go wrong. As the last moment the old Jenna's sins caught up with her causing everything she built up to come crashing down. That's when she realized that wanting to grow up too fast isn't all it's hyped up to be.

Overall the movie was fun and Jennifer Garner was really easy on the eyes and I'm glad she didn't have any problems doing comedy. She did well in portraying the right amount of innocence and adorability in a way that doesn't detract anything from her character. She and Mark Ruffalo had a chemistry going on between them that made the friendship between their characters quite believable. She's still no Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, or Meg Ryan in these types of roles but I think she wouldn't have any problem fitting in in case she decides to tackle more romantic comedies right after her next film. My only gripe against this film is the wrongness of the 80s music played in the film. This was in the year 1987 and the music like The Bangles' "Walk Like An Egyptian", U2's "With Or Without You", Kylie Minogue's "Locomotion", Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", and Debbie Gibson's "Only In My Dreams", etc. should have been in the soundtrack instead of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", Go-go's "Head Over Heels", Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl", Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", or even Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield." By 1987's standards these songs were so passé people would not be caught singing or confessing their love for these songs in public without the fear of being labeled a loser or a nerd. People might say I'm making a huge deal out of nothing but what happened to credibility? You don't cram all the songs from one decade into one year and not think that there's something very wrong with it. Everything's too random and the movie failed to reflect the decade in contrast to the present. Soundtrack wise, The Wedding Singer this ain't. The movie does make a good point of wanting to go back to the time of innocence (as was "The Village") but romanticizing the past is an exercise in futility. We can't keep holding on to the past because we're not satisfied with the present and the future is a scary place. It's everything we all wish, to be able to go back and correct the wrong that we did. But if we keep this wish while looking back to the past we wouldn't be making much progress and in effect we are running away from our responsibility to do something about it while it is still today. Still, I'm glad that everything worked out for Jenna when she realized that before she got her second wish.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

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