I just realized something today. I looked on Jennifer Garner's IMDB page, and I never realized that she played one of the twins in Dude, Where's My Car? I guess she got so big, so fast after landing the lead role on the hit TV series Alias, that either no one even realized it, or forgot about it. And she deserves to have that role forgotten, because she has just shined in everything she's done in the 4 years since that stoner comedy everyone loves to hate. She was only in a few scenes in Catch Me If You Can, but they were probably some of the best scenes in the movie (and the most accurate to the book) and she was great as Elektra Nachios in last year's Daredevil. The lovely Ms. Garner is in the main attraction in her latest movie, 13 Going on 30, and, while the story isn't exactly the strongest, she definitely makes the movie worth watching, in more ways than one.

The movie starts out with the popularity-starved Jenna Rink, coming up on her 13th birthday. She wants to be a part of this elite chick clique, so she does their homework for them so they'll come to her birthday party. They come, but end up leaving her in a closet, when her only real friend Matt comes back, only to have Jenna flip out on him, ending their friendship, and leaving her alone in the closet, just wishing she was 30. Of course, her wish comes true, when Jenna wakes up as a 30-year-old (Garner), skipping 17 years of her life. So now, she has to figure out who she's become and try to be friends again with a grown-up Matt (Ruffalo) who she hasn't spoken to since her 13th birthday.

They should've just called this movie Big Girl, since it's basically the movie Big, with a girl. But Big had a more logical storyline, with the kid staying in the present time, and just growing like The Fly overnight. But in 13 Going on 30, she just wakes up as 30, not remembering the past 17 years of her life. And this all happened because some "wishing dust" was sprinkled on here while she was wishing she was 30. Yeah. But, I suppose it's not that much different than a wish-granting machine, such as in Big. I guess this movie is kind of a mix between Big and The Family Man, but, yeah, with a girl. I know this is a "fantasy" kind of movie, but I always have a hard time with these "fantasy" type of movies being set in present day. I mean, at least get a time machine or something. Have a nerdy sci-fi geek who made a time machine out of a smoker and a 1975 Dodge Ram, and she goes to him to be 30. Something! Wishing dust? Come on...

But Jennifer Garner gives just a wonderful performance that's more than enough to keep you in your seat. She easily gives the best female lead performance of the year so far. Garner gives us everything and anything as the young-at-heart Jenna Rink, and I she does it all to perfection. She's playful and energetic, sad and funny, and, for once, shows us she can play more than just the female bad-ass, as she had in almost all of her previous roles. And, even if you think otherwise of her performance, she does look just amazing here, as always...

Mark Ruffalo gives a decent supporting performance as Jenna's old pal Matt Flamhaff. Ruffalo always has this Ben Stiller quality to him. He's always very calm, but sarcastic at times, and very reserved, like almost all of Stiller's characters. I think this quality works for him here, for the most part, but I don't think we really get enough when Jenna, the girl he always loved, comes back into his life after 17 years.

And, you most likely won't recognize him, but Andy Serkis, best known as the voice and mannerisms of the computerized Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, gives a very nice performance here as Jenna's eccentric boss, Richard. He gives a boisterous performance here, and is very funny at times, proving that his range isn't just limited to a raspy voice and crouching around in a motion-capturing suit. But while these performances are good, I just didn't like Judy Greer that much as Jenna's conniving friend Lucy. Her performance is just hollow, and, while I got that she was playing opposite of Jenna's bubbly manner, it just didn't work for me.

The script, written by the team behind What Women Want Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith along with Niels Mueller, is decent. There are some pretty funny parts, the best being where Jenna goes to ask a much younger boy out, only to be stopped by Lucy. And there is some nice dialogue here as well. But the very end is just hokey. They had some nice dramatic elements in the story towards the end that I liked, because I thought they weren't going to end it with everything all hunky-dory. But, of course, they did, and it just came out of nowhere, really, and it really bothered me. They could've ended it a lot more effectively, I thought.

Director Gary Winick is pretty good at the helm here, working very nicely with Garner. He did some great work with this big dance scene to Thriller. The 80s music got to be a little much, but it was 1987 when she was 13, so yeah. Can't really get around that, I guess. But he does an OK job at the helm here.

13 Going on 30 is a movie about changing for the better, even if you don't remember changing for the worst. Jennifer Garner gives a wonderful and playful performance, and, even though the show is hers, it's stolen sometimes from Andy Serkis. But moviegoers might feel robbed from the un-original and predictable story...

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