13 Going On 30 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Never less than watchable, the picture nonetheless came across as less positive than I expected.
Sharpness caused some concerns. While the movie usually appeared acceptably concise, more than a few shots looked slightly soft and ill-defined.
Some of that seemed to stem from edge enhancement, which never became overwhelming but which often looked heavier than usual, so noticeable haloes popped up at times. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and print flaws appeared largely absent, as only a few small specks appeared.
Given its fantasy concept and girlie tone, I expected a broad palette from 13, and that’s what I got. Mostly the colors worked well, and they often came across as nicely bright and dynamic.
However, they also could appear somewhat thick and oversaturated at times. Some of this may have resulted from production design, but I felt the colors lacked a consistently satisfying tone.
Blacks were nicely deep and firm, but shadows varied and could look too dense on occasion. This became an erratic and not consistently appealing image.
While the picture of 13 Going On 30 didn’t live up to expectations, the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack provided exactly what I expected from this sort of film. As usual for a romantic comedy, the soundfield maintained an emphasis within the forward spectrum.
There I heard good stereo separation to the music and nice delineation for the other elements. Most of the effects tended toward the ambient side of the equation, but a few scenes came to life in a more compelling manner. Actually, the “Thriller” dance number was the prime example of this, as most of the time, the track stayed light and breezy without much substance from the surrounds.
Audio quality appeared to be positive. Speech sounded crisp and natural, with no edginess or issues related to intelligibility.
Music and effects demonstrated fine clarity and they seemed distinctive, but I thought they showed some restricted dynamics. A few tunes offered deep low-end, but as a whole, bass response appeared to be somewhat lackluster.
The fidelity was acceptable, but the package could have boasted a stronger punch. Overall, the audio of 13 was acceptable and that was about it.
How did the Blu-ray compare with those of the original disc? The lossless TrueHD mix seemed slightly superior to the standard Dolby track on the DVD, but given the soundscape’s limitations, improvements remained minor.
As for the visuals, I suspect the Blu-ray came from the same transfer used for the DVD, so the only upgrade came from format capabilities. This made the Blu-ray somewhat sharper and more dynamic but it limited improvements and meant this was a movie that could use a new transfer.
As we head to extras, we open with two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Gary Winick, who offers a running, screen-specific chat.
Mostly informative and engaging, Winick gives us a decent appraisal of his experiences. He talks about restrictions of the genre as well as his reactions. He goes over some issues connected to the actors and the script, with an emphasis on rewrites and altered/deleted sequences.
Winick indulges in some happy talk, but he also often criticizes his own work and lets us know what he’d like to change. At times Winick simply narrates the story, but he usually seems honest and interesting in this pretty good commentary.
For the second commentary, we hear from producers Donna Arkoff Roth, Susan Arnold and Gina Matthews, all of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. Less informative than the director’s discussion, this one looks at the film from a female point of view.
That makes it sporadically useful but not terribly strong. The trio mainly covers general production issues with some notes on the cast, locations, wardrobe, and script. Occasional fun remarks like the original title of Sparkle magazine - and why they changed it - appear as well.
They indulge in a lot of happy talk and praise but provide a smattering of elements we don’t hear from Winick as well as some reflections on their own childhood and Eighties experiences. They manage a nice sense of enthusiasm, so while the commentary lacks much hard information, at least it goes down easily.
Under “Featurettes”, we go to Making of a Teen Dream. It fills 18 minutes, 52 seconds with notes from Winick, costume designer Susie DeSanto, and actors Jennfer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel Ball, Judy Greer, Alexandra Kyle, Christa B. Allen, and Andy Serkis. Somewhere on a level between a purely promotional piece and a more in depth program, “Dream” remains fluffy but offers some good notes.
We hear a lot of happy talk about the film, which makes it drag at times. However, it also includes a fair number of entertaining anecdotes about specific sequences like the strip tease and the “Thriller” dance. We also get some good information about clothes choices. It lacks great substance but it’s fun.
In a similar vein, Making of a Teen Dream: Another Take lasts seven minutes, 37 seconds and brings notes from Roth, Matthews, Arnold, Garner, Winick, Ball, Ruffalo, Allen and Greer. They give us more notes about the film along the same lines as what we got in the longer “Dream”. It becomes another frothy but moderately informative reel.
I Was a Teenage Geek takes eight minutes, one second to let us know of the youthful experiences of the movie’s stars. We get notes from Garner, Greer, Ruffalo, and Ball about their teen years and also see photos of them from that period. It’s trippy and cool to watch.
Fashion Flashback: Into the Eighties takes six minutes, 50 seconds and features comments from models Bethany Belcher, Brittany Johnson, Virginia Lopez, Grace Lee, Valuable Vintage author Elizabeth Mason, makeup artist Chelsea Behrens, hair stylist Rosemarie Valverde, and stylists Meritt Elliott and Emily Current. They chat about Eighties fashions, how they made a comeback for kids circa 2004, and how to recreate these styles.
Wow – what a waste of time! This featurette was so fluffy and inane that I think it actively killed my brain cells. I lived through the Eighties – I don’t need to be reminded of those ugly styles and be told that they’re cool.
And by the way, why do so many hair stylists have such bad ‘dos? Valverde sports a seriously ugly cut, and Current’s bleached blonde bangs don’t do it for me either.
A set of Bloopers lasts three minutes, 16 seconds and provides the usual roster of goofs and giggles. It feels like an ordinary collection of bits.
The Video Gallery presents a running montage of photos that provides behind the scenes stills as well as publicity shots. It lasts two minutes, four seconds and brings a decent set of images.
A cool addition, the music videos domain presents Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” and Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl”. They tie in perfectly with the movie and are great fun to see, even if the Benatar video always did - and still does - suck.
The Alternate Beginning and Alternate Ending lasts 11 minutes, 35 seconds. Both are fairly similar to the existing start/finish, but they lack the character involvement of the final version.
They also use different actors for many of the parts. The “Alternate” footage isn’t any good, but it’s interesting to see.
18 deleted scenes fill a total of 27 minutes, 10 seconds.The vast majority of these depict extensions to scenes found in the final cut of the film.
A few totally new tidbits appear, like Jenna’s visit to the doctor early in the story as well as a challenge from Jenna’s young neighbor, but mainly we see smaller bits chopped form existing sequences. That makes them intriguing but not fascinating.
In the Previews area, we find ads for Big Fish, Mona Lisa Smile and Maid In Manhattan. No trailer for 13 Going on 30 appears.
No one will confuse 13 Going On 30 with a classic like Big, but it certainly fares better than most flicks in the genre. It succeeds largely due to an excellent cast, and unobtrusive direction keeps it simple and satisfying. The Blu-ray presents mediocre picture and audio along with a fairly informative compilation of supplements. I like the movie but the Blu-ray could use an upgrade.
To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of 13 GOING ON 30