It’s Jenna’s 13th birthday but instead of longing for Barbie dolls and pretty shoes she wants to be “thirty, flirty and thriving” like the models in her favourite magazine Poise. The year is 1987.
Flashforward to 2004, New York City, Jenna is 30, the Editor of Poise magazine with everything she ever wanted. From basement parties to Wall Street parties Jenna’s come a long way from being unpopular at school to a “tough bitch” in the city. Yes, in true Hollywood fashion, thanks to some magical wishing dust, her dream has come true.
So Jenna reads Magazine Publishing for Dummies ensuring success at work and wins over the local teenagers with 80’s pop song wisdom and sleepovers. But as she learns more about her life she realises that she’s duplicitous with men, has a completely ruthless business style and has neglected her family. In short, she’s sold her soul.
Strangely it’s at this juncture that writers Cathy Yuspa and Jerry Goldsmith expect us to feel most for their heroine. They have her try to put everything right, attempting to pull at our heartstrings. But by now it’s a real stretch to accept that Jenna is a particularly wholesome person.
I would go on to say that I hated the ending, although as my heart isn’t made of stone it’d be a lie. Still how many more spineless happy-ending films do we have to endure?
A last-ditch effort to conclude the film realistically is torn asunder only at the last moment. Having apparently recovered their rose-tinted spectacles Yuspa and Goldsmith spoil us with a wretch-worthy final flourish. And whilst I’m glad that not all viewers are entirely cynical, when will production companies put real people into test screenings?
13 Going On 30 is perhaps best suited to the less judgmental minds of teenagers who, I presume, will better relate to the subject matter and no doubt find it enjoyable, not hackneyed. Young minds are more forgiving, which accounts for why I still have a soft spot for Big.
But just has Tom Hanks moved onto far better things, I’m hopeful that Jennifer Garner will do the same.