Is Jennifer Garner the next Julia Roberts? Entertainment reporters everywhere seem to think so. It helps that she actually looks like Roberts; in fact, she could be Roberts' little sister. But that's the problem, too, because everything about Garner is...littler. Littler eyes. Littler lips. Littler teeth. She's cute as a bug -- a bug that, unlike most bugs, is very, very cute. And I don't doubt that she's going to be a big star someday; the studios will see to that. But 13 Going on 30, the movie that's supposed to launch Garner into major stardom, may not get the job done.
Garner plays Jenna, a 13-year-old semi-geek with braces who wakes up one morning as a 30-year-old Mistress of the Universe -- beautiful, successful and with teeth as straight as Julia Roberts', only littler. Except, she still thinks she's 13. Yes, it's another something-trapped-in-the-body-of-something-else movie -- Big for girls. Only this time there's an oh-be-nice message attached. The 13-year-old Jenna (Christa Allen) longed to be one of the Six Chicks, a phalanx of warrior-babes who ruled her school. Now, it seems that her dream came true, although she doesn't remember any of it. And the dream's starting to look like a nightmare.
Garner bobbles the early scenes, when she discovers, for instance, that she has breasts. And she never brings the kind of imagination to her split-focus role that Jamie Lee Curtis did to her mother-daughter act in Freaky Friday. As a result, we never buy her as 13 going on 30, only as a 30-year-old impersonating a 13-year-old. And the script neglects to show us how cold-hearted Jenna had supposedly become, leaving us nothing to compare the nice-Jenna to. As Matt, the boy/friend who's borne the brunt of that cold-heartedness, Mark Ruffalo seems out of place and ill at ease.
He's a good actor trapped in a bad movie.