Thursday, April 29, 2004
The body switching movie is a genre that has a long pedigree. Apparently I’m not the only one fascinated by the idea, because Hollywood keeps churning them out. At their best, they give us insight into the question of who we really are. Do we become a completely different person if our brain is magically placed into someone else’s body? To what extent is our identity based on how other people react to us?
The best body switching movies dwelve into these questions and others. In Prelude To A Kiss, Meg Ryan is newly married to Alec Baldwin, but somehow she switches bodies with an old man. How do the groom’s feelings change when the mind of his lover no longer inhabits her body? It’s a romantic comedy for those who like their romantic comedies to have a darker edge about them.
13 Going On 30 mostly plays up the romantic comedy angle of the story, but in a heavily chick-flick oriented way. The movie begins with Jenna Rink as a thirteen-year-old, desperately attempting to become accepted by her school’s in-crowd, in the process alienating her best friend, the somewhat nerdy Matt Flamhaff. But then she magically becomes thirty years old, living in a future where she has a high paying job as an editor at a fashion magazine, and her boyfriend is a famous professional athlete.
I guess I shouldn’t have expected much from a movie that was supposed to appeal to thirteen-year-old girls. There is not much here besides chick-flick clichés and paeans to boring middle-class values. This is a genre that has so much great potential, but unfortunately it's suffocated here. The only good in the movie is its soundtrack, which goes out to prove that eighties music blows away the crap they play today.
Well, also good is the performance by Mark Ruffalo, who plays the adult Matt. Ruffalo is so likeable as Matt that one can’t help but enjoy the scenes he’s in. And the screenplay writers are to, at least, be commended for ending the movie with a Hollywood cliché fairy-tale ending that allows him to still be the honorable nice guy (I hope this doesn’t give too much away).
If you like eighties music and body switching, then you will find this to be mildly entertaining fluff. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go beyond that.
* The rules of style dictate that if a sentence begins with a number, then the number should be spelled out.