Turning 30 can spark everything from mild depression to full-blown midlife crisis. But for the husband-and-wife screenwriting team of Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa, their own experience of turning 30 wasn’t all that negative — and ultimately resulted in a film, the appropriately titled “13 Going on 30.”
Sony’s Gary Winick-helmed comedy finds Jennifer Garner playing Jenna Rink, a 13-year-old who turns 30 overnight following a disastrous birthday where she is completely dissed by the hottest girls in school (the “Six Chicks”) as well as the object of her affection.
“When we were writing it, we both had just gotten over the idea of turning 30, and that definitely helped us write,” Goldsmith says. “The movie isn’t really about (turning 30), but there is a theme running through it that she is turning 30 now, and theoretically that kind of milestone could cause you to look back and question the choices you’ve made and the person you’ve become. And we both definitely went through a bit of that.”
It’s the serious way that teenage girls are affected by life’s daily trials — like the birthday party debacle experienced by the younger version of Garner’s character — that actually spurred Goldsmith and Yuspa to write the script in the first place. “We both have 13-year-old cousins who really inspired the character and really inspired the movie because they are so funny and tragic and wonderful in so many ways,” Goldsmith says.
Adds Yuspa: “Like one of them, (the younger Jenna’s) main goal is to have a different lip gloss for every day of the year. And the seriousness with which (teen girls) take everything, like the lip gloss, just seemed really funny to us, but we didn’t want to do purely a kids movie with a kid star because we wanted something for an adult too.”
This film isn't ‘Big’
So the writing team — best known for “What Women Want” and their showrunning duties on “The King of Queens” — gave birth to “13 Going on 30.” At first glance, the film would seem to invite comparison to the Tom Hanks starrer “Big.” But that’s not how its creators see it.
“We both love that movie,” Yuspa says. “And the comparisons are certainly there, but from our perspective, two things make it really different. (‘13’) is all about girl issues, which are so different than Tom Hanks being boyish in an adult world. But more importantly, it’s more of a glimpse of Jenna’s future that actually exists in a parallel universe and one that is specific to her life and the choices she made at 13. It’s more than just a fish-out-of-water comedy about a kid in an adult world.”
Another difference between the two films is that Hanks had a handful of starring roles under his belt when he made “Big,” while Garner is carrying a movie for the first time in her career. But Goldsmith and Yuspa are confident that this is the first of many to come for their leading lady.
“She’s everything you could dream about when we wrote this character,” he says. “The fact that she isn’t Julia Roberts yet — which I believe she absolutely will be — gave the movie such a really interesting, nice edge because she really is a fresh face. Of all the people they were talking about (casting), she really brings the perfect balance of being incredibly sexy and incredibly goofy.”
Not so fast, Mr. Goldsmith. “Soooo incredibly sexy,” mocks his wife, causing Goldsmith to quickly retort, “But not as incredibly sexy as my wife.”