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:: Suddenly 30

Suddenly 30 comes from the writers of What Women Want (2000), and has a similar magical element and warm-hearted feel. The plot of this romantic comedy is essentially the same as that of 1988 film, Big, with Tom Hanks, but is different enough to still feel fresh.

Jenna Rink is awkward, insecure and fed up with being a kid. She desperately wants to be accepted by The Six Chicks, the in-crowd at her school, but they only use her for favours and bully her best friend, Matty. At her thirteenth birthday party, they pull a cruel stunt and leave her crying in the closet. Humiliated and heart-broken, she makes a wish to be grown up. With a little magic, she wakes up as thirty-year-old magazine editor with a naked man in her apartment.

Without the experience and social shrewdness to make it in the cutthroat adult world, Jenna’s life is spinning out of control. Seeing her adult self through the eyes of an innocent and idealistic thirteen-year-old, she is not at all sure she likes who she has become. To answer her questions about the last seventeen years, she seeks out childhood friend, Matthew, who has grown into a charming and talented photographer.

Mark Ruffalo is very appealing as the geeky best friend and the romance that unfolds equally adorable. The tough action chick from Alias is unrecognizable, as Jennifer Garner transforms into a frightened little girl caught in her adult world. She overcomes some exaggerated acting in her early scenes, to settle quickly into a believable youngster who is both sweet and sad.

Many of the songs used in the 1987 scenes were not quite true to the era, having been released several years earlier, but they do come together well as a soundtrack. Jenna Rink’s childhood is an amalgamation of all ‘eighties childhoods and will have people nudging each other to say; “I had one of those…and one of those”. Jenna livens up 2004 with her slice of 1987, although it is a stretch to believe that anyone in 2004 can still remember the dance routine to “Thriller”.

Suddenly 30 does have comedic moments, but is more melancholy than its promotional material suggests. This sweet story will have a broad appeal, as it satisfies the child’s wish to be a grown-up as well as the adult’s reminiscence of childhood.