Romantic comedies are magic in its own right. Even with a hint of conflict, they’re full of love, laughter, and larger-than-life gestures that help us escape reality for fleeting 90 minutes.
Some of the best romantic comedies add a bit of sci-fi to shake up the plot and loop its main characters on a loop. For this sweet romantic comedy, it’s time travel that moves the story forward, and the film fully engages in the hilarity that comes with its lead character being cast 17 years into his future.
Much of this is thanks to Jennifer Garner, whose immense charm as Jenna takes 13 In progress 30 to a new level. The 2004 film is pure delight, using time travel to transport 13-year-old Jenna to a future where she takes on the life of her future self, a 30-year-old fashion magazine editor who might not be everything. what Jenna hoped she would be.
Like any great science fiction movie, 13 In progress 30 takes you on a journey of self-discovery, and now that it’s airing on HBO Max, here’s why it’s a movie to cheer you up.
Directed by Gary Winick, 13 In progress 30 begins in 1987, where 13-year-old Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen) and her best friend Matty (Sean Marquette) do their best to finish college. Jenna wants to be popular and win the “Six Chicks,” a clique of mean girls (Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson briefly appears as one of the popular girls). She invites them to her birthday party, and their boss, Tom-Tom (Alexandra Kyle), only agrees if Jenna does her homework.
At the party, Matty gives Jenna a handmade dollhouse and sprinkles “Wishes Magic Dust” on it so that all of her dreams can come true. The sweet moment is disrupted with the arrival of the Six Chicks and a cruel trick on Jenna with the game “Seven Minutes in Heaven”. Humiliated by her classmates, Jenna blames Matty and wishes to be “in her thirties, flirt and flourish” like the women of Balance, her favorite fashion magazine.
The next morning, adult Jenna (Garner) wakes up to see her wish come true. She is now 30 years old with her own apartment in New York, a big job as Balance editor, a best friend of Tom-Tom who is now called Lucy (Judy Greer) and a famous boyfriend hockey player. That’s all she ever wanted; only, Jenna soon realizes that her dreams aren’t quite what she wanted them to be.
Realizing that she has woken up as an adult, with no memory of the past 17 years, she rushes to find Matty (Mark Ruffalo), and she finds out that the adult version of her has not been friends. with him since that fateful birthday party.
As the two reconnect, their friendship blossoms into something romantic, but Matty has a fiancée and Jenna still has to face all the decisions – good and bad – that she made as an adult.
Garner fully embraces the 13-year-old spirit of his character. Its wide-eyed optimism and glee at its newly granted freedoms make it a fun watch, even if the film’s comedy is a bit creaky and dated at times. But seeing Andy Serkis, who plays Jenna’s boss, walk on the moon during the famous “Thriller” dance scene doesn’t get old, nor does the alluring chemistry between Garner and Ruffalo.
There is something to love 13 In progress 30, but what makes it unique is that it uses a simple time travel premise to tell a caveat about how the best things in life have often been ahead of us from the start. It’s never too late to rewrite the future.
13 In progress 30 is now streaming on HBO Max.