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'What goes around comes around', and in no industry is that phrase more relevant than the film industry. Seemingly bored with churning out countless remakes, Hollywood has instead returned to that faithful fall-back; the body-swap comedy. Having hit the mainstream in 2003 following the successful reception of the (you guessed it) remake of Freaky Friday, this once-forgotten subgenre is back with a vengeance. Seizing upon a winning formula, should we expect lazy film execs to give us a wealth of unoriginal features? Well, yes...

13 Going On 30
Film
Opening in the late eighties, we're introduced to Jenna Rink, an awkward young girl who's desperate to fit in with the popular groups at school. The only friend who seems to truly appreciate her is next door neighbour Matty, who pines away in the hope that, maybe one day, she'll realise that he just might be the guy for her.  

After a humiliating 13th birthday party, Jenna wishes that she could be thirty (yes, thirty!) and, with the aid of some magic dust (yes, magic dust!), her wish is granted and she flashes forward to 2004. Discovering that she's now an attractive woman (in the shape of Jennifer Garner), Jenna quickly adapts to the transition. She has a high-powered career with a fashion magazine and the ability to make men drool—what more could she want? The only thing that seems to be missing is best friend Matty, but the two parted company many years previously. When friends are reunited, sparks predictably fly and Jenna sets about getting her man once and for all.

It's perhaps appropriate that 13 Going on 30 begins in the eighties, as back then Hollywood had a fondness for the humble body-swap comedy, such as Like Father, Like Son, and Vice Versa. 13 Going on 30 takes its cues from the best of the bunch: Big. There's a fine line between homage and a rip-off and, when Jennifer Garner pops up through the sunroof of a limousine, this reviewer gave a slight groan. Affectionate tributes are all well and good, but this film lacks an original thought of its own so it becomes all the more cheeky. This is by-the-number's film making with the requisite number of twists and turns. Comic scenes are also few and far between and, barring a dance number to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller', there are few laughs to be had from a formulaic script.

Matters aren't helped by the trappings of the plot; since we can assume that Jenna will return to her adolescence by the finale, pursuing her goals seems a pointless exercise because she'll get another chance in seventeen years time. This inevitably leads to a finale that 'cheats' the audience in a truly lazy manner.

13 Going On 30
This is not to say that 13 Going on 30 is a bad film. It may be half-hearted and unremarkable, but its short runtime means that it's central gimmick and good-natured morals can sustain the feature. Furthermore, in the absence of a witty script, a good amount of charm is provided by a strong cast. Aside from her first fumbling moments as an adult which are decidedly irritating, Garner makes a likeable lead, relishing in the sort of role that Julia Roberts would have bagged back in the nineties. Mark Ruffalo is also a nice choice as the unassuming Matty, and it's good to see Andy Serkis playing something other than a mutated hobbit in the role of a camp magazine editor.

13 Going on 30 isn't going to set the world alight as many viewers will have tackled similar territory numerous times previously. However, if you're in an undemanding mood and want to see whether Jennifer Garner can cut it in a romantic comedy, this is the DVD for you. However, be warned that although this movie is hard to dislike, sometimes it might be worth the effort.

Video
A pleasing transfer for this relatively new, film with the bright colours handled extremely well. Skin tones look pleasingly realistic and the disc also handles the darker scenes with a good amount of clarity and sharpness. The movie is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and it's a generally good job, although the chapter points are baffling with a lack of thought or logic concerning the narrative of the feature.

Audio
Far too much emphasis on the soundtrack is perhaps the only qualm about what could have been an otherwise faultless mix. The dialogue is usually crystal clear and the sound effects are well handled, but this dissipates with the arrival of the frequent music cues. The numerous eighties tracks sound great through a speaker set-up, but you'll have to fiddle around with the settings if you want to make out some of the dialogue. Chief culprit is the finale where the closing lines are almost lost under Madonna's 'Crazy For You'.

13 Going On 30
Extras
When will DVD producers realise that solo commentaries are notoriously hard to pull off? Director Gary Winock inevitably leaves too many pesky pauses on this chat-track but, when he has something to say, he's an eloquent and engaging commentator. Meanwhile, the producer's commentary is an oddity since the role of the producer is usually to secure the budget rather than be overly creative. Since it often covers similar topics as the other track, one wonders why the producers and director couldn't have joined forces.

The deleted scenes are more specifically extended and alternate cuts. Unfortunately, the director is not on hand with reasons as to why these scenes were removed, but their omission from the finished film is not surprising since they're overly slow. Affording Andy Serkis a little more screen time and filling in some plot-holes, they will be of interest to some viewers.  

Running at almost twenty minutes, The Making of a Teen Dream featurette is your typical light-weight documentary with far too much mutual back-slapping and far too little content. Including clips from the film and sound-bytes from the cast and crew, don't expect to glean any insight from this. Ditto for the remarkably similar The Making of a Teen Dream: Another Take.

Much better is the I Was a Teenage Geek segment. Film stars are far more entertaining when their asked personal questions instead of well-rehearsed PR spiel. In this short featurette, the cast are asked about their geekish tendencies. Incorporating photos of them as adolescents, it's an entertaining watch. The same cannot be said of the Bloopers, as the relatively small bunch lack any real laughs.

Photo galleries have never been the most exciting of extras, but they serve their limited purposes. A Video Gallery, on the other hand, is pretty useless as it doesn't even allow the viewer to skip through the pics at their own leisure. Should you ever wish to watch this, you'll have to be armed with the pause button.

The two music videos, Pat Benatar's 'Love is a Battlefield' and Rick Springfield's 'Jessie's Girl' offer some kitsch appeal, although the sound and picture quality leave a lot to be desired.

Finally, we have the trailers—one for 13 Going on 30 and four other Columbia releases. This is a nice excuse to watch the trailer for Spiderman 2 once more.

13 Going On 30
Overall
You've got to be a pretty undemanding viewer to be a big fan of this movie and, if that's the case, the thorough set of extras shouldn't make much difference about whether you want to give this a purchase. Those who missed this at the cinema and were intrigued by the trailers, might want to give this a rent- but nothing more; 13 Going on 30 is a great film for thirteen year olds, less so for thirty-somethings.


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