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Movies like 13 Going on 30, from mean to fat girls

13 Continue 30 is a well-received comedy starring Jennifer Garnier. The plot is deceptively simple —Jenna (Christa B. Allen), a high school student, is humiliated by her classmates at her own birthday party. She wishes she was 30, and the next morning she wakes up to find that 17 years have passed, with no memory of that time. She is now 30 (Garner) and the editor of a fashion magazine Balance. Gradually, she learns what happened in the Lost Years and is appalled at how selfish, conniving, and downright mean she has become. Back to her 13-year-old self, she changes the course of her life for the better.

The film is more than just a child’s feature film that becomes an adult overnight. It has elements that make it rise above a single trope. You must right the wrongs of your past for the benefit of the present and the future, learn to be yourself, learn that it’s okay to be yourself, and embrace challenges even if you’re out of your league . Its diversity is its strength, and here are some other films that speak to the same themes:


Big (1988)

Josh Baskin, 12 years old (David Moscow) makes a wish to be “fat” on an ancient fortune-telling machine. The next morning, he became an adult (tom hank). At first, Josh enjoys the perks of adulthood, but it soon becomes too much, and he’s back at 12. Shares the child-becomes-adult plot device, and as such is often compared to 13 Ongoing 30.

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Weird Friday (2003)

The 2003 film adaptation reunites with Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) at a crossroads in their relationship. As they magically switch bodies, they quickly learn the challenges each face and are forced to adapt, like Jenna in 13 must adapt to adulthood.

Jumanji (1995)

In 1969, young Alan Parrish (Adam Hann Byrd) finds himself trapped in the supernatural jungle board game Jumanji. Twenty-six years later, Alan (Robin Williams) is released when a pair of siblings start playing, and in order to stop the chaos the game is unleashing, they must finish. When the game is over, Alan is back in 1969 and changes his future, like Jenna, by making a different choice.

17 Again (2009)

Mike O’Donnell (Zac Efron) loses his chance for a basketball scholarship when he learns of his girlfriend Scarlet (Allison Miller) is pregnant. Twenty years later, Mike (Matthew Perry) is set to divorce Scarlet (Leslie Man), his children want nothing to do with him and he is forced to live with his friend. An encounter brings Mike back to himself at 17. Seeing an opportunity to make things right, he adopts a new name, enrolls in high school, helps his children, and manages to fix his marriage before he turns 37 again. More or less the opposite of 13but even happy ending.

Never Been Kissed (1999)

Joey (Drew Barrymore) is an insecure 25-year-old copy editor who is tasked with going undercover as a high school student for a story. Her early years in high school were traumatic, so Josie seized the opportunity for change. Like Jenna in 13Josie learns to accept who she is.

Miss Friendliness (2000)

A “popularity runs deep” lesson at the 13, Miss Conviviality stars Sandra Bullock as Gracie Hart, a tough FBI agent who poses as Miss New Jersey for the “Miss United States” beauty pageant, who has been targeted by a terrorist. While undergoing commando beauty training, Gracie realizes that the other candidates aren’t the vapid idiots she assumed they were. After the plot is settled, Gracie reveals her identity to the contestants, who heartily name her Miss Congeniality.

Mean Girls (2004)

Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) enters high school after being homeschooled for 12 years. Befriended by two outcasts, they plot the downfall of the “plastics” ruling clique by having Cady infiltrate. This leads to Cady becoming the new “queen bee” of plastics, the very type of superficial person she had wanted to stop. Shunned by the whole school and distrusted by her parents, Cady slowly rebuilds her relationships, as 13It’s Jenna, being herself.

Legally Blonde (2001)

In order to adapt to a world she didn’t understand, Jenna had to quickly learn 17 years of information. Likewise, the bubbly heroine of Revenge of a BlondeShe Woods (Reese Witherspoon), finds herself in law school, a world very different from beauty advice and manicures. Despite obstacles, Elle rises to meet and exceed demands without getting lost, challenging perceptions of herself.

When We First Met (2018)

Noah Ashby (Adam DeVine) falls in love with Avery (Alexandra Daddario) at a Halloween party in 2014, but is clearly in the friend zone. The next day, Avery meets Ethan (Robbie Amell), and three years later, the two are engaged. Upset that he hadn’t tried harder to win his hand, Noah drunkenly drops into a photo booth and makes it work. He wakes up in the past, to the day he met Avery. Seeing an opportunity, Noah tries unsuccessfully to win her heart, so he walks back into the photo booth to try again. Every attempt fails, until Noah realizes life is going as it should, and he finds true love with another. This is another interesting twist on mystical time travel, as 13.

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

Lonely Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is a CTA token collector, who saves the life of Peter (Pierre Gallagher), a handsome stranger who fell on the subway tracks. She visits the comatose Peter in the hospital, and while there she is mistakenly assumed to be Peter’s fiancée by his family. Captivated by their warmth, Lucy plays along for days, until Peter wakes up and his real fiancee appears. Exposed, Lucy flees, only to be welcomed the next day by the family, who still adore her, and Peter’s brother, Jack (Bill Pullman), who she realizes is the one she truly loves, just as Jenna realized her true love was not the one she expected.

There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) suffers a humiliating event (like Jenna) before taking her dream girl Mary (Cameron Diaz) at their high school prom, and he loses contact with her afterwards. Thirteen years later, Ted has still not recovered from Mary and hires a private detective to find her. What follows is a crazy series of events that sees several men petting Mary (and, uh, hair gel) before Ted wins her heart in the end.

Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes