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Matt: You can't just turn back time.
Jenna: Why not?
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13 Going on 30 is a 2004 Romantic Comedy movie about a girl named Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner) who is 13 and suffers from the ageless drama of 13-year-old girls: she doesn't have enough boobs, she doesn't have enough cool clothes, she doesn't have a beautiful and popular boyfriend, and she definitely doesn't have friends among the In Crowd.

As a solution to this, she wishes to become older and successful and beautiful and popular and pretty much everything else. So, with a little help from a magic dust, she ages seventeen years in a blink and wakes up as powerful magazine editor, whose best friend is Lucy Wyman, aka Tom-Tom (Judy Greer) the old queen bee at her school.

The only problem is, she doesn't remember a thing of how she passed the past years. Matt (Mark Ruffalo), a nerd who was her only friend at high school, helps her to find herself; but what if she does not like how she turned out to be?

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For the trope that this movie used to name, see Overnight Age-Up.


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adorkable: Teen!Jenna, both in the '80s and in 2004, and to a more meta extent, Jennifer Garner. If her utter enthusiasm and enjoyment of life doesn't get you, the Thriller dance will.
    • Jenna's hockey-player boyfriend.
    Want me to sign your shirt or something? I don't do butts.
  • Alpha Bitch: Tom-Tom (a.k.a. Lucy) in her high school days.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Jenna's boss.
  • Ambition Is Evil: So, you want to be thirty AND have money AND power AND boobs? Absurd. The only way you'll ever have all that is if you became a Class A Bitch.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Jenna to Matt, right before his wedding.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The film's events are set in motion by "magic dust."
  • Be Careful What You Wish For
  • Bed Trick: A PG version, at Jenna's party. It's devastating.
  • Brainy Brunette: Jenna, of course. Yes, she may have turned out to be a 30-year-old bitch, but she certainly isn't dumb.
  • Cerebus Call Back: The dream house Matt makes for Jenna's birthday is subject to two. It's introduced in a comical yet sweet scene. Later on in the film we find out that apparently Jenna threw the house at him after thinking he scared away the party guests. Also after Matt refuses to leave Wendy she begs to have the house as something to remember him by and cries while looking at it.
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  • Character Development: Jenna realizes that maybe there's more to life than money and success. Something more along the lines of Becoming A Better Person.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The letter from Sparkle that we see in Jenna's mail early on (see The Reveal below).
  • Childhood Friend Romance: It is evident at the start of the film that Matt had a crush on Jenna when they were kids. They grew apart after the Time Skip, but they were reunited and started to have romantic feelings for each other. They got married at the end of the film.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: In this case, Jenna kind of corrupts herself, but...
  • Dance Line: Jenna does this during the Thriller dance part.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the cast, but Mattie has some of the best lines.
    You were playing that game, what was it, Spin the Rapist?
  • Derailing Love Interests/Disposable Fiancé: Averted. Matt refuses to leave Wendy for Jenna and she ends up wishing herself back to the age of 13 to fall in love with him the proper way. He simply never met Wendy in the first place or, if he did, was with Jenna at the time.
  • Doting Parent
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: During Time Skip, the adult Jenna spends most of the movie trying to reconnect with, and pying for, the adult Matt, while also trying to make amends for her backstabbing ways. At the end, the magazine she was working for went under because Tom-Tom stole her idea to steal the magazine's pieces, and use it as a bargaining chip for a better paid position in rival company. When she goes home she confesses her love for Matt, only to tell her he's in love with someone else, and is going to marry her in few minutes, Jenna breaks down crying, and magically goes back to 1987. When Matt opens the door, she kisses him, tells off Tom-Tom, and back in 2004, she and Matt are happily married, and have bought a house similar to the dollhouse he made her.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Tom-Tom. I mean, Tom-Tom?
    • Not that Jenna's is any better – "Sweetbottom"? And Matt's junior high nickname was Beaver.
  • Emotional Torque: The always present Aaaaaaaw Sound, mostly. Specially at the end, when the Loving Couple finally get together.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage
  • Family Versus Career: Jenna has to choose: She gets True Love, or she gets a good job and a lot of money. There's more to the plot than that, but these are pretty much the basics of it.
  • Fashion Magazine: Poise magazine.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Jenna goes from being a teen in The '80s to being an adult during the Turn of the Millennium. The movie ignores many of the problems (and humor) which might result from the Time Travel aspect of the plot. Is Jenna going around as a 30-year-old high-powered magazine editor in 2004 thinking the Soviet Union still exists or that Michael Jackson is still black? Who knows? It's never brought up. However, a few jokes are brought up: she doesn't initially know what a cell phone ringing is, and she thinks Eminem is the candy brand.
  • "Friends" Rent Control/Big Fancy House: For a freelance photographer and a magazine editor who live single in NYC, both Jenna and Matt have pretty posh apartments. And their "dream house" when they get married also seems pretty upscale (although there's no way of knowing if they ended up with different jobs in the new timeline).
  • Future Me Scares Me: Played with; Jenna's future doesn't explicitly scare her, but as time goes on, she realises that she doesn't like what she's become.
  • Genki Girl: Jenna as an adult. Apparently she's not normally like that, thoroughly freaking out her co-workers.
  • Girl Next Door: Jenna and Matt grew up next door to each other.
  • Girl Posse: The Six Chicks.
  • Growing Up Sucks
  • Happily Ever After: What did you expect?
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Jenna, whose weird behaviour when she first "ages up" is explained (by Lucy) as "You drink too much."
  • Home Sweet Home
  • High School: The part between times that she doesn't remember, that is.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Jenna and Matt, obviously. Averted because the first time around, they stopped being friends. Jenna's "sweetheart," presumably, was Chris, whom she took to prom.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Jenna concerning Lucy.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy
    Jenna: Look, I won't have you be late. Just go. Go on. I'm fine. I'm just crying because I'm happy. I want you to be so, so happy. I love you, Matt. You're my best friend.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Chris in 1987 is the hunky, longish-haired, blond jock that Jenna had a crush on and dated for a while. In 2004, he's 30 and lost his looks. He also looks more 40 than 30.
  • Informed Ability: Jenna's redesign proposal for Poise looks about like a 13-year-old's attempt at a photo collage of her friends. Justified? Well, not the part where it gets an ovation from a room full of media professionals and someone resorts to corporate espionage to rip it off for their own magazine.
  • Jail Bait: Jenna (in her adult body) foolishly flirts with a kid rather than the adult man who just winked at her. She is instantly pulled away by Lucy, who lampshades this trope.
    Lucy: What do you want? A jail warranty? I meant that guy!
    Jenna: The man? Oh, gross!
  • Just Friends: Jenna and Matt.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Subverted (because Matt is not the protagonist) and downplayed, but Jenna is this for Matt. He's in a bad relationship, and she shows up and makes his dreams come true.
  • Market-Based Title: For no apparent reason, the movie was released in Australia and Brazil as Suddenly 30.
  • Mental Time Travel
  • Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Parody: Jenna dances Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance in a nightclub, and this gets the party going... This could also be a Chekhov's Gag when we see her dancing by herself at her party in the beginning.
  • The Mole: Lucy, using Jenna's mailers, had been feeding a rival fashion magazine with ideas for articles that her magazine had been coming up with.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Considering the timing of Jenna's 'trip' forward and her 'return', it wouldn't be impossible to treat her experiences as a dream.
  • Overnight Age-Up: The whole point of the film, as Jenna goes from her thirteenth birthday to being 30 (never specified if she's exactly 30 or just in that area)
  • Popular History: The version of 1987 in which 13-year-old Jenna lives like a modern-day '80s-themed party.
  • Race for Your Love: Jenna rushing to catch Matt at his wedding.
  • Reset Button: The wishing dust allows Jenna to return to her 13-year-old self and do it all over again.
  • Ridiculously Successful Future Self: Jenna's future self has basically everything she wanted when she was thirteen, but it soon becomes clear that she got there through some significant failings as a person.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: When she magically turns 30, Jenna finds that she is a backstabbing businesswoman who drove away her parents and finds out that her friendship with Matt ended on her 13th birthday after Tom-Tom tricked them both into playing 7 minutes of heaven. She spends most of the movie pying and apologizing to Matt, and trying to amend her reltionship with her parents, and even comes up with a plan to revive the magazine that she's working for. Unfortunately, the magazine folds becuase Tom-Tom stole Jenna's idea to take the magazine's materials and use it as bargaining chip for better salaried position at a rival publisher. When she goes home, Jenna confesses her love for Matt, only for him tell her that he's marrying someone else in a few minutes. After she breaks down crying she, goes back to her 13th birthday, and happily embraces Matt, tells off Tom-Tom and we see that back in 2004 they are happily married.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Jenna finds out that Matt is actually very tall and handsome after the Time Skip. Unfortunately, he is also engaged to someone else.
  • Showing Off the New Body: Jenna at one point squeezes her adult body's breasts, calling them "incredible."
  • Sleep Mask: Used by Jenna when she wakes up as adult.
  • Stepford Smiler: Jenna, when she wakes up 30, finds she is not the nice young girl she used to be.
  • The Reveal: Done twice because the first-time viewers in the audience wouldn't know the significance of the letter from the rival Sparkle magazine that turns up in her mail in the first reveal, either.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Christa B. Allen as young Jenna, Sean Marquette as young Matt, and Alexandra Kyle as young Lucy.
  • True Love's Kiss: Again, what did you expect?
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Jenna found out she didn't turn out right as a grown-up.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Achieving this requires learning some hard lessons.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Jenna's boyfriend in a very-not-sexy scene.
  • When She Smiles: The late-night walk between Jenna and Matt.
    • Surprisingly, Lucy gets one, too. Throughout the film if 'smiling' at all, she is either smirking or has an obviously fake smile plastered over her face. However, when Jenna plays Thriller in the club, Lucy breaks into a massive happy grin and giddily runs off to join the dancing.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The events of the plot are brought about with the aid of... "magic dust"? As Roger Ebert remarked, "I think we have to let the movie get away with this."
  • Your Cheating Heart: Matt and Jenna kiss during a romantic walk despite Matt being engaged and Jenna having a boyfriend.

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