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4.5 out of 5 stars105
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VINE VOICEon 25 June 2006
Knowing that she can do action and plenty of it from the hit TV spy series Alias, we see Jennifer Garner tackling another genre in this sprightly gratifying romantic comedy that's obviously inspired by one of Tom Hanks' smash hits in which she plays a 13-year-old who wishes she was 30 and wakes up the next morning to find out that she is! Although it's Big with flashy lip-gloss, it's incredibly captivating with Garner on top form along with a stunning cast which includes a charming Mark Ruffalo, bitchy Judy Greer and LOTR's Andy Serkis, picturesque visuals and a romantic sub-plot that's convincingly dreamy between the two leads.
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At first sight, this looks like a teenage girl fantasy movie and the first fifteen minutes seem to be just that. However, once Jenna (Jennifer Garner) gets her wish (it's a silly fairy dust scene) to become thirty, Garner manages to pull off a thirteen year-old as a successful businesswoman as well as Tom Hanks did in "Big". She is truly funny at discovering how her life has turned out. Finding out that she and her friends are not the nice people she thought, Jenna tries to save her famous fashion magazine from folding and save the boyfriend she neglected as a teen (Mark Ruffalo as Matt). Garner really pulls out all she has and glows in this funny, heartfelt and human comedy. Not being one for this genre, I was very surprised at how well conceived the entire film was. The entire family will go for this one.
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I was rather pleasantly surprised by this film. Obviously, the storyline is by no means unique, and I've seen too many films featuring kids and adults miraculously switching places to feel all that confident about going once more into a similar breach, but 13 Going on 30 is actually, well, delightful. I'm a big Jennifer Garner fan going all the way back to her role in the short-lived Time of Your Life; by and large, I think she did a wonderful job in this role. It is certainly a different Jennifer Garner than we see on Alias, and it certainly appears as if she relished a role in which she got to be silly and whimsical. I would have to credit Mark Ruffalo with an even more impressive performance, though, as his was the subtle glue that held the fantastical elements of the plot together.
Young Jenna has just turned 13; already unhappy with the way she looks and anxious to be popular, she suffers an embarrassing indignation which has her fervently wishing to be 30. Thanks to some wishing dust on the model dream home her obviously infatuated by "not cool" friend Matt built for her, she gets her wish. I thought the early scenes featuring 13-year-old Jenna reacting to the instant passing of 17 years and adjusting to her new, uh, accessories was a little awkward, and a certain lack of continuity in regard to her reactions to new stimuli popped up sporadically as the film progressed. One minute she's acting like a young teenager, and then she will suddenly seem to have grown up into her new age to a significant degree. Anyway, she discovers that all of her dreams have come true: she was popular, and she has become mighty successful in life - actually sitting atop the fashion magazine she was addicted to as a kid. Before long, though, she begins to see that having it all isn't all it is cracked up to be. This grown-up body she inhabits is actually a rather empty shell of a not so nice person. She learns that she has done some rather nasty things over the course of the missing 17 years. The only person she can turn to is her friend Matt (Mark Ruffalo), but the two have gone in very different directions over the years. In the process of trying to save her magazine, Jenna learns that the dreams of childhood don't turn out the way you thought they would and other obvious life lessons, etc., etc. You can probably guess what happens at the end.
The film does succeed rather well as a comedy; the Thriller dance scene, while uncomfortable to watch, is indeed quite silly, and some of adult Jenna's interactions with young teens also play well. I also loved the fact that the movie helped take me back to the 1980s, to some degree. There are some classic 80s tunes on the soundtrack, and beginning the film with the sound of the Go-Go's definitely qualifies for a star in my book. That being said, I have to say that I don't remember some of the awful hair-dos of the film actually existing in the late 80s - certainly not among the girls my eyes gravitated toward in those halcyon days of youth.
In the end, this is basically your silly, entertaining, feel-good comedy, and it stars one of Hollywood's most attractive, talented actresses. It doesn't try to be anything more than what it is, and that is a big reason why it works as well as it does. It is by no means a must-see, but I do believe it is a film you cannot help but enjoy.
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on 11 August 2005
This is one of those movies that serve purely as entertainment and not much else. And of course, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you are not expecting to find innovative ideas or earth shattering developments in the story. I guess my message is, if you are just seeking to spend a couple of hours relaxed and having fun, this is the film for you.
Jenna (Gardner) is a teenager that is going through a crisis similar to the one most kids at her age have to endure; she wants to be cool and belong to the elite group known as "Six Chicks". She thinks that if she was thirty she would not have these problems, so on her thirteenth birthday she wishes to be of that age. Lo and behold, her wish comes true. I am sure this idea sounds familiar to most of you, since it has been used time and again with different variations, like grandfather and grandson or mother and daughter exchanging bodies, a woman waking up in a male body, etc. In this case there is no body swap, but Jenna just wakes up seventeen years later.
Even though at first she is confused, she quickly realizes that she has everything she wished for when she was a kid, but now the question is: Is this really what she was looking for? As you can see, there are not a lot of original ideas, but the creators were successful in introducing special situations that make us laugh almost continuously during the presentation. Also, Jennifer Gardner, who effectively portraits a ruthless agent in the series "Alias", shows that she can also excel on the other extreme, with a sweet and naïve character.
The only question I am not sure I have an answer for yet is: Would I watch this movie again? At this point in time I would say maybe, and I think that means that I would not plan on revisiting it, but if I came across it on cable I would probably stop and watch for a while. In my mind guess this means that it is enjoyable enough.
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on 27 July 2006
i absolutely love this film. There is something about it that makes me tingle. It's great and I just can't get enough of the 80's songs. I think Jenifer Garner played the part just right getting the habits of a 13 year old girl spot on.
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on 23 May 2010
Jenna is a shy 13-year-old who one day wishes that she were older, so she obviously has her wish granted for some reason and wakes up the next morning in the body of an attractive 30-year-old magazine editor. Jennifer Garner plays the grown-up version of the films heroine while Mark Ruffalo charms as her love interest, but this insipid rip-off of Big substitutes clichés and sentimentality for genuine laughs and charm, leaving this horribly predictable mess to be saved only by the fact that you may be a girly enough girl with an IQ lower than your shoe size.
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on 22 July 2005
I just watched this movie and I wasn't expecting too much from it, as there are a lot of mediocre romcoms out there at the moment, but this was a wonderful surprise! It's actually quite funny and ever so romantic, I love it! It's also got a fab soundtrack - infact, that's why I came on amazon just now, to check if they sell a soundtrack! This is a real feel-good movie, with a reeeeeally nice loveable leading man, which always helps! If you like romcoms and/or niiice men, do yourself a favour and buy this! It really is brilliant fun!
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on 3 December 2011
Christa B Allen plays young, geeky Jenna, who on her thirteenth birthday wishes to be thirty and flirty. During her nightmarish birthday party she locks herself into a closet and when she wakes up her wish has come true, she is the glamorous editor of her favourite magazine - "Poise". Of course it has been done before in "Big" and "Freaky Friday". Jennifer Garner takes over the role as grown up Jenna and brings a real sense of fun and innocence to the story. There is a strong resemblance between the two actresses which adds believability to the film. Mark Ruffalo is his usual, laidback, watchable self as her childhood friend Matty. Jenna learns that, although she acheived everything she thought she had ever wanted she had lost herself along the way. Yes, it does sound a bit corny and unoriginal but this movie is great fun. A real feel good film.
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If you could change your life by skipping ahead in time so you could finally get to the good parts, would you do it?

Jenna Rink, a pretty but slightly dorky teen's 13th birthday party goes disasteriously wrong leaving her feeling horribly humiliated; she makes a wish to be "thirty, flirty and thriving" in extreme reaction and wakes up as if from a dream to find herself in a flash apartment as a beautiful grown up woman with an athletic boyfriend and a warddrobe full of fashionable clothes. From a wish, she has been catapulted from her teens right into her thirties.

Stunned to be a 13 year old in the body of a grown up woman with no memories of what happened in between, she begins to try and piece together her life, discovering along the way that life is a grown up is not all it's cracked up to be.
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on 17 June 2011
This is a great film. I had to re-order it as couldn't find my previous one. It's the film I put on when I was to laugh and have a tear in my eye, but ultimately by the end of it I'm smiling away. Brilliant film, very funny - H
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