13 GOING ON 30
Big was an unalloyed delight with its pure-hearted sense of innocence; on the other hand, 13 Going on 30 only comes out seeming, well, girlish. Where Big wistfully created a sense of lost childhood innocence, 13 Going on 30 seems at most nostalgic for 1980s culture. (To its advantage, it does have a great soundtrack of 1980s hits). However, it lacks any sense of genuine wistfulness or even imagination. One of Bigs most memorable scenes was Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia dancing on a keyboard laid out across a toyroom floor; at best 13 Going on 30 has Jennifer Garner leading a dancefloor to a rendition of Michael Jacksons Thriller (1983).
Moreover, while Big left one with a genuinely saddening sense of the loss of childhood innocence, all that 13 Going on 30 seems to do is regard rediscovering ones teenage years as a way of retreating from the adult world (even though the school life experienced by the young Jennifer Garner seems to be just as bitchy and mean as her adult life). What 13 Going on 30 seems to comes out saying is that the adult world is bitchy and backstabbing and a place where people do not-so-innocent things like engage in one-night stands or sleep with married men, and that if we could all rediscover a wholesome sense of youthful innocence then we would be rewarded with the fairytale romantic ending. Indeed, 13 Going on 30 could almost be a commercial for a return to Family Values it goes so far as to directly equate a traditional marriage with the guy next door as much more preferable to the singles lifestyle; suburban life (in a home modelled on a Barbie dollhouse) as superior to a cosmopolitan Manhattan lifestyle; and a return to a nostalgic and innocent view of school days as being superior to modern sensibilities.
13 Going on 30 highlights Jennifer Garner, who has become a new name star as a result of tvs excellent spy thriller Alias (2001-6). Garner is certainly an actress with a future ahead of her. On Alias, she projected a smart sexiness and focused intelligence. This started spilling over onto the big screen where she was offered leading action roles that had her doing fairly much variants on what she did in Alias case in point being her role in Daredevil (2003) and the subsequent spinoff Elektra (2005). 13 Going on 30 was a smart choice of roles upon Garners part in that it allowed her to play something at 180 degrees remove from Alias and to display her versatility. Alas, while the intention is good, the result ends about there. It is not a part where she gets to display any undiscovered talents as a comic actress all that she seems to do is display an occasional series of wow-gosh girlish expressions. A better director might maybe have made more of the part but Gary Winick seems unattuned to evoking any sense of a girl trapped inside a womans body.
Director Gary Winick next onto direct the live-action remake of Charlottes Web (2006) and the non-genre romantic comedies Bride Wars (2009) and Letters to Juliet (2010).