Highly Recommended. This is a great personal film about second chances, about seeing the consequences of life choices made early in our lives. 13-year old Jenna (Jennifer Garner) tries to break into the “Heathers” inner circle of “the 6 Chicks” at her school. She must sacrifice her best friend, chubby Matt, a photography hobbyist secretly in love with her. But she is rejected by the in crowd anyway and she pines over wanting to be “thirty, flirty and successful,” like fashion magazine Poise tells her. After magic wishing dust sprinkles on her, she wakes up 17 years later as the fashion editor of Poise magazine itself. Only trouble is, she is the two timing, frenetic fast-lane society user of other people in order to achieve that status. When she tracks down Matt, now all grown up and rather handsome, she discovers they never saw each other after that day she rejected him in Jr. High school. And she embarks on a journey of discovering the successful but empty life she built on her way to the top of social success. This is a story of realizing the importance of character and decisions in life. She realizes the kind of fake user you must become to be successful in today’s fashion conscious urban professional world, and how blind she was to the quality person right in front of her, Matt. She makes the wrong choices in life by sacrificing her character and her true friend for acceptance into the “cool” group in school. A universal issue we all deal with. She tries to rectify her issues. When the magazine is in trouble with its competition, they decide to redesign the vision and look of the magazine. And this is an example of good storytelling, her attempt to overhaul the magazine vision reflects exactly the same issue in her own life. She proposes that they get rid of all the fake model shots and replace them with real people in joyful memory experiences, “The Class of 2004.” Looking back to innocence. As she says, “We need to remember what used to be good.” In a sense, she seeks to regain her innocence lost and she recognizes you do this by going back to what was right and good in the past. Excellent thematic writing. But she learns this all too late to stop Matt from marrying his fiancé. He tells Jenna, “I’ve always loved you. These last two weeks, you made me feel what I’ve haven’t felt since High School (obviously, her). But it’s my wedding day. We chose different lives. I’ve chosen my fiancé. Things are different.” And then she wakes up, 13 again, from the magic dust. And she is faced with the original opportunity to reject her young 13 year old chubby Matt, but instead chooses him over the “inner circle” of chicks. Excellent morality tale. Very moving and inspirational to make the right choices in life NOW that will bring fruit later. If we could only see the consequences of bad choices now and where they end up, we may make the right choices instead. This movie gives us the opportunity to see that future result. And that’s the benefit of age: Wisdom. Or at least it should be. That’s the benefit of listening to those who have gone before us. We don’t have to experience consequences to foolish mistakes if we listen to wisdom now and choose the right over selfish ambition. Chose character, devotion and authenticity and you will avoid the pitfalls of the shallow, vain, selfish culture we live in. This movie is a cinematic incarnation of an aspect of a rather profound ancient book, Proverbs:
Prov. 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, And ornaments about your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause; We shall find all kinds of precious wealth, We shall fill our houses with spoil,” My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives. For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD, And discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart, And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you, To deliver you from the way of evil.
It’s just too bad the filmmakers of 13 Going on 30 neglect the one most important element of such wisdom, the source itself, The fear of the Lord. It must be noted that the attempt to achieve morality without God is an ultimate failure and cannot provide ultimate redemption or forgiveness of sins. But it is certainly a testament to God’s Word that when even pagans obey certain aspects of his eternal truths without Him, they are blessed with a measure of success in life. The problem is, that is not all there is to life.