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Guilty Pleasures: 13 Going on 30 

When? 2004

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it available? Netflix

Thirty, flirty, and thriving. It's a headline in fictional Poise magazine, a mantra that young Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner) uses as a wish, and a phrase I've always been captivated with. When I first saw 13 Going on 30, I was going through the same awkward pre-teen years Jenna finds herself in at the start of the movie—being 30 didn't sound like a bad trade to me either. Even now, out of my awkward phase and into my young 20s, I still find the idea of 30 appealing.

click to enlarge THIRTY, FLIRTY, AND THRIVING 13 Going on 30 follows the journey of a 13-year-old girl who successfully wishes herself into a 30-year-old woman. - IMAGE COURTESY OF REVOLUTION STUDIOS
  • Image Courtesy Of Revolution Studios
  • THIRTY, FLIRTY, AND THRIVING 13 Going on 30 follows the journey of a 13-year-old girl who successfully wishes herself into a 30-year-old woman.

This movie likely shaped my fixation on 30 more than I would like to admit. 13 Going on 30 is a relatively tame (yet addicting) rom-com with a wild premise and great characters. Jenna Rink is an unpopular 13-year-old girl who wants to skip past her adolescent struggles to what she believes is the good part of life. Her childhood best friend, Matt Flamhaff (Mark Ruffalo), is just as dorky, yet doesn't get caught up in their social status.

After Jenna's 13th birthday party doesn't go to plan, she wishes to skip ahead to 30. Though the logistics aren't clear—some magic dust seems to be involved—Jenna wakes up the next day in a New York apartment as her 30-year-old self. She is an editor at Poise magazine, dates an attractive hockey player, and wears designer everything. However, Jenna quickly learns the woman she turned into isn't exactly who she had hoped to become.

The romance kicks in when Jenna reunites with her childhood friend Matt. There aren't any traditional steamy scenes (that would just be weird), but you'll still find yourself happily rooting for the two. Unsurprisingly, they keep each other young.

For a movie that borders on silly most of the time, I'm always surprised how emotional it can be. First, it deals with the desire to be older and surer of yourself, then the need to be young and innocent again. No matter what stage of life you're in, it's easy to long for a different time and different place in life.

Little moments throughout the film also prove unexpectedly poignant. In one scene, Jenna visits her childhood home and her parents (who usually can't even get a phone call) in search of her youth. Billy Joel's "Vienna" plays over the montage-esque sequence and is guaranteed to draw out a few tears. I usually catch myself humming the melody a day or two after a good 13 Going on 30 re-watching.

Do I feel bad about the number of times I've seen Jenna navigate the whirlwind of a pre-teen mind in a 30-year-old body? Maybe a bit, but that probably won't affect my viewings in the future. There are sparkles in the credits, "Thriller" dance breaks at expensive parties, and a perfectly wholesome love story. Netflix knows to never take this guilty pleasure off my queue. Δ

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