Garner elevates '13'; awful script sinks 'Laws of Attraction'
I FEEL SORRY FOR SCREEN actors these days. Screenwriting is a lost art form. Too often screenplays are a) written by committee; b) based on an idea stolen from a better movie; c) based on a comic book or video game, or d) loaded with plot, but devoid of character development.
13 Going on Thirty settles on "b," based on an idea borrowed from the far superior Big. This movie reverses the gender, and thanks to the star quality of Jennifer Garner, is pleasant enough viewing.
We first meet Jenna (Christa B. Allen) as a gawky 13-year-old who is thrilled that the most popular girls at school, led by Lucy (Alexandra Kyle), are coming to her birthday party. She wants to fit in so much, she fails to see they are just using her, although her best friend Matt (Sean Marquette) sees exactly what's going on.
Humiliated and left in a closet, she wishes she were 30. Thanks to some magic wishing powder, she wakes up and her wish has come true. It is 17 years down the road and Jenna (Jennifer Garner) is the editor of Poise magazine. Best of all, she has boobs and a great wardrobe to show them off. The 13-year-old in her is horrified that there is a naked man in her shower (gross!), but manages to fit in at work, with some help from the grown-up Lucy (Judy Greer), her assistant.
Feeling lost and confused, Jenna seeks advice from Matt (Mark Ruffalo), who explains that they are no longer friends. Jenna, filled with her 13-year-old longings, puts herself back in Matt's life. Garner is so enchanting and believable as a 13-year-old stuck in an adult's body, it's easy to overlook the retread quality of the storyline. Another bright spot is the '80s soundtrack, especially in one of the movie's most effective scenes. Jenna livens up a dull party by asking the DJ to play "Thriller," dragging Matt onto the dance floor to do their old "Thriller" moves.
Garner's sparkle elevates 13 Going on Thirty to the level of passable entertainment.
Laws of Attraction
This movie completely wastes the attractive and sexy screen pairing of Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan. It's a screenplay by committee, credited to four writers. The film features tepid dialogue, wastes its New York City locale, and in the end becomes a pseudo-screwball comedy with too many screws loose. The sheer animal magnetism of Brosnan and Moore keeps this from being quite as awful as the other divorce lawyer comedy from the past year, Intolerable Cruelty. The only actor who gets a few good lines is Francis Fisher as Moore's young-at-heart mother.
13 Going on Thirty - ** 1/2
Rated PG13 For sexual content, brief drug reference
Laws of Attraction - **
Rated PG13 for sexual content, language
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