Every week for the foreseeable future, Vulture will be selecting one film to watch as part of our new Friday Night Movie Club. This week’s selection comes from our staff writer Madison Malone Kircher, who will begin her screening of 13 Going on 30 on May 8 at 7 p.m. ET. Head to Vulture’s Twitter to catch her live commentary, and look ahead at next week’s movie here.
There’s a line my parents fed me a lot as a child, particularly during my middle-school years. Nobody should have to experience being a 13-year-old closet case with exactly more than one friend but less than three while also attending a Catholic school where they make you wear a plaid skort and knee socks and go to church each morning before class. But I did. And as a result, I got picked on, a lot. My bullies, though, my parents promised me over and over, wouldn’t amount to anything. This was their prime. Mine was yet to come.
I distinctly remember thinking this to myself the first time I saw 13 Going on 30. I was 12 and similarly desperate for my life to hurry the fuck up and give me boobs and a love interest and for something, anything, interesting to happen to me and make me cool enough that the wannabe Olympic figure skater in my class whose second-favorite extracurricular activity was being nasty to me would finally be my friend. In 13 Going on 30, Jenna is tormented by a group of six bullies. The “Six Chicks” are an evil little coven of teenage hormones, scrunchies, and matching acid-washed jean jackets. To this day, I can’t hear The Go-Go’s “Head Over Heels” without picturing their opening scenes and shuddering a little. Whatever, Beaver. It’s not like she needs a play-by-play. They roll down the halls in a pack, not a single hair on their heads unstraightened and not one zit among them. They are all, of course, thin. The Six Chicks only agree to come to Jenna’s birthday party after she promises to write a paper for their leader, Tom Tom.
This, naturally, ends badly for Jenna. Had she stuck with my preferred method of inviting my only two friends to celebrate, she probably could have avoided the whole thing, to be honest. The girls show up to pick up the paper and then ditch her in a closet, blindfolded, where she thinks she’s waiting for the most popular boy in her class to come play seven minutes in heaven. From there, as you probably know since this movie has been out for 16 years, some magical dust transports her to the future, where Jenna — now played by Jennifer Garner — gets all the stuff she, and I, were yearning for. But it turns out adulthood isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, so she hails what I can only assume is a very expensive cab from Manhattan to commuter New Jersey in an attempt to stop Mark Ruffalo, her dorky teenage best friend, who is now also grown, and hot and cool, from marrying somebody else. A little more magic dust later and she’s wearing a pair of pink high tops — yes, I obviously bought myself a pair of these — and sitting on a couch with Ruffalo on the front lawn as they move into their new house. A Razzle, Mr. Flamhaff? Thank you, Mrs. Flamhaff. Cue Madonna’s “Crazy for You.”
In the movie, we never hear from the five unnamed six chicks again. We don’t get to see them 17 years into the future to see how their lives and careers and hair highlights and athletic aspirations are going. But Tom Tom, the alpha female, ends up working with Jenna at Poise magazine. And it turns out Tom Tom isn’t actually a terribly great adult, either. She steals Jenna’s idea for a rebranded Poise — never mind that the magazine needs a rebrand because Jenna, prior to her magical-dust arrival at age 30, was funneling editorial plans to a rival magazine, Sparkle — and tricks Mark Ruffalo, grown and hot and cool and a professional photographer, into signing over the photos he shot for Jenna’s rebrand pitch. Tom Tom in turn sells the idea and the photos to Sparkle. And then, in a real “oh wow, nobody who worked on this movie has any idea how magazines operate” moment, the new photos appear on bus ads within hours and the new issue hits stands immediately. Tom Tom takes a job running Sparkle — which, also, never mind, was supposed to be Jenna’s before the silly dust ripped a hole in the space-time continuum — and leaves a crying Jenna in her wake. Oh, yes, 12-year-old me nods, Tom Tom is a bad person. Tom Tom does not get the happy ending. Bullies do not win.
In real life, this is only half-ish true. In real life, one of the hot teen bullies in 13 Going on 30 grew up to be Academy Award winner Brie Larson. Another, Ashley Benson of Pretty Little Liars and Cara Delevingne sex bench fame. Brittany Curran stars on The Magicians. But the other three are the ones I think about the most. And, yes, I have spent more time thinking about this than a normal human should. Megan Lusk, Alexandra Kyle, and Julia Roth. The three actresses who, when you rewatch this film, do not have faces that will make you scream LMAO THAT’S BRIE LARSON!! Lusk hasn’t been in a movie or television show since, according to IMDB, 2005. Kyle and Roth are still in the biz, though it seems more than fair to say they haven’t achieved the same star status as their sistren also working in the field. They gave an interview back in 2019 talking about what it was like to be a Six Chick and everybody seemed very nice and pleasant. (In this same interview, Christa B. Allen, the actress who played young Jenna, mentions that Larson used to have an AIM screen name that “was a reference to her favorite lip gloss.” If you have any intel on this, please reach out to me immediately.) But I was still left wondering: Is it weird to be a non-famous Six Chick? Are they happy? Fulfilled? Still wearing side-ponies and bike shorts? Do they have a group chat where they talk amongst themselves? Did they perhaps get hit with a sprinkle of magic dust and are now living in some alternate universe where they too are 30, and flirty, and thriving?
Join me Friday and we can discuss all of this on Twitter, which is, if you think about it, a platform for bullies. How apt. Event is BYOR*.
*Bring Your Own Razzles.
13 Going on 30 is available to stream with a subscription to Hulu and Starz and is available to rent on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.
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