Think 'Big' but with an attractive woman in the main role. 13 Going on 30 opens in 1987 and sees Jenna (Christa B. Allen) celebrating her birthday. After she ignores the advances of her best pal, the good-natured Matt (Marquette), and fails in her attempts to change her social standing, Jenna finds herself wishing away her adolescence. For when she next awakens, Jenna has been transformed into a 30-year-old version of herself (as played by Jennifer Garner). Bereft of any recollection of the previous 17 years, Jenna sets out to find out what happened. First stop? Why not her old pal, Matt, who is now all grown up (Mark Ruffalo) and on the cusp on strolling down the aisle with another woman.
Unpredictable narrative arches and originality are not amongst 13 Going on 30's strongest suits. As vexing as this is, 13 Going on 30 has a sweet natured, if slightly too eager-to-please air about it. Directing the story in broad, easy-to-digest, chunks, Winick allows his actors - chiefly Garner - to have fun with their parts, encouraging a comedic rhythm to develop. Although she's a little too enthusiastic on occasion, Garner has a goofy sweetness about her, throwing herself wholeheartedly into the role. The tendency to overplay and showboat never quite disappears but there's a charm there that's impossible to ignore. Harmless fun.