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Worth A Look: 29.07%
Just Average: 10.47%
Pretty Crappy: 8.14%
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3 reviews, 68 user ratings

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by Dennis Swennumson

"Something many may not know- teenage girls rebel."
4 stars

A genre that really hit full stride and saturation in the 80’s, the teen movie has proven itself repeatedly to be a surefire box office entity, allowing studios to cash in consistently on what is supposedly teen America’s current trends. Unfortunately these movies are typically mediocre sex comedies, half-hearted coming of age stories or a dreadful combination of both categories. Recently there has been an uprising of acclaimed movies that go against the manufactured grain. “Blue Car”, “Raising Victor Vargas”, “Elephant”, and “Better Luck Tomorrow” are all films with considerable entertainment value that present teen issues with candor, integrity and sometimes controversy.

“Thirteen” has reaped most of the attention in this wave of quality independent films for its unblinking portrayal of middle school girls hurtling out of control as they grow up way too fast. It makes a claim to be the most honest and accurate examination of early adolescence ever put to film, as it was co-written by one of its sixteen-year old actresses, Nikki Reed. That assertion is mostly true, the movie does accurately present middle school as an uncomfortable time of transition and uncertainty, when many turn from who they were into what they think they are.

The film’s main character, Tracy, begins to experience this change on the first day of seventh grade. She is introduced to Evie Zamora (Reed), the most popular girl in school, leaving a trail of overcharged hormones wherever goes, and instantly admires her. Quickly Evie adopts Tracy into her clique; they take off on exploits where shoplifting and purse snatching are the common activities. With the help of the over-experienced Evie, Tracy’s transgressions snowball, the pair become increasingly acquainted with drugs, alcohol, and all of their related activities that would terrify unsuspecting parents.

The shining aspect of “Thirteen” is the acting talent on display. The performances of Nikki Reed and Evan Rachel Wood deserve respect; they attack the requirements of obviously difficult roles with boldness and maturity. Director Catherine Hardwicke has said that casting was one of the hardest elements of the film’s production, many actresses abandoned the role of Tracy after their parents discovered the subject matter the part entailed. Holly Hunter plays the mother in the film’s best performance and most unique character. Here the parent is not a villain, through the initial awkwardness she embraces the idea of her daughter growing up. Holly Hunter was deservedly nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a woman reeling from the deterioration of a relationship where she once identified with her daughter.

The content of “Thirteen” and what occurs during the descent of Evie and Tracy is enough to inspire most parents lock up their daughters until the age of 21. Though the depiction of cliques and the dynamics of their general expectations and unwritten rules and how they affect the individual is pretty dead-on, the movie is an outright exaggeration. It’s well known teens usually develop new self-images and alliances after arriving at middle school, but the plot of this film is a case of the most innocent girl imaginable being digested by the worst crowd possible. It even boils down to the story’s setting, the amount and type of trouble a teen can find living in a smaller town is of considerable difference to a teen living in Los Angeles. “Thirteen” is built upon a realistic foundation, but the film is a work of fiction, there has to be some entertainment value to keep us interested in the story. The idea that teens take part in activities that would alarm their parents obviously isn’t a new concept; it’s a common aspect of life.

“Thirteen” is a testament to the ways natural teenage rebellion can occur without the need for police intervention. The film was initially conceived when Hardwicke, a good family friend, took note of the difficulties Nikki Reed and her parents experienced while she went through this period. To curb Reed’s own tailspin, Hardwicke suggested that they write a screenplay about middle school life and Reed’s experiences.

As the movie progresses, it seems that Hardwicke loses sight of her initial inspiration and simply plays to the shock value. “Thirteen” is a pretty good, not great, examination of the difficulties and pratfalls of modern teenage life.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6914&reviewer=338
originally posted: 07/06/04 04:46:12
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This film is available for download or online viewing at CinemaNow.com For more in the CinemaNow.com series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/07/16 David Hollingsworth Shocking and truthful depiction of teen girls on the edge. 5 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. every parents worst nightmare. 4 stars
2/21/08 art A REALISTIC LOOK AT TEEN LIFE IN L.A. 4 stars
8/28/06 David Cohen If you think talkshows are high drama, this is your kind of movie 1 stars
8/19/06 Beau GREAT, evan rachel wood and hunters acting was outstanding 5 stars
4/01/06 matt Shallow messages, zero pacing, Holly Hunter has the acting skills of a pile of rocks 2 stars
3/13/06 Suzi good movie 3 stars
3/03/06 omar good movie but its the main reason i dont want daughters 4 stars
11/01/05 Mimi Terrific film. Very realistic and thought out. If you're a girl, see it with your mom. 5 stars
9/07/05 bac pretty good movie 4 stars
4/24/05 Me A great film 5 stars
3/09/05 Gray die you pair of worthless whores! 1 stars
12/13/04 Ashley Baker I thought it was a great movie. Although they should have did the ending a little better. 5 stars
11/23/04 Katie OMFG i frikin love this movie!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/10/04 Karlie i think it was great. I think all teenages should watch it! 5 stars
10/23/04 corey smith this movie is great i loved watching it is kinda what some of my friends r goin in to 5 stars
10/23/04 chantel i love this movie, i thought it was great. 5 stars
10/14/04 valerie hart fantastic acting from ALL of the cast worth wotchin kl teenage flick 5 stars
9/25/04 Tor Honolulu When You Can't Control Your Own Kids..next on Jerry Springer 1 stars
9/12/04 Rafael They're surely not 13, but the movie is awesome anyway 5 stars
8/13/04 Elena very realistic and daring, but lacking in plot unforunately 4 stars
7/27/04 Gray just what I need a melodrama about fucking loosers 1 stars
7/18/04 John McIntyre those girls are so not thirteen 4 stars
7/17/04 legend A shocking film on teenage girls with good performaces. 4 stars
7/16/04 Danielle It was the best movie i have ever seen in my whole entire life!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/15/04 toothpick that movie was awsome!!!and so were all the actors! 5 stars
7/13/04 Nic This movie went nowhere 2 stars
7/07/04 wildcarde1 making my 13 yr old watch it 4 stars
5/01/04 movie it was so weird 1 stars
4/12/04 Jean Wish they would just all come down...scary and good 4 stars
4/02/04 Ghetto Smurf Hey, Jade: You're a fuckwit :) 1 stars
3/29/04 Nicole im 13 and this does happen but you have to be some stupid shit to let it happen to you . 5 stars
3/22/04 Teresa the most amzing movie i have ever seen 5 stars
3/20/04 movieguy a great film 5 stars
3/12/04 Jade Gerrard The movie was awesome....hope thy'll make a nother movie ( "Fourteen") lol 5 stars
3/09/04 Amy A very "real" film and true to a lot of adolescent angst 5 stars
2/24/04 Julia Cox 1st half like SMELLY paint drying;last 3rd a hint of drama; then no ending. 1 stars
2/18/04 BB Thirteen is my favorite movie .. It's intense, deep, cool + funny [once you see it alot] 5 stars
2/07/04 Tori Loved it & thought it did really well about exposing the 'dark' side of adolesce 4 stars
2/06/04 Kristen G. At first, thought the movie was unrealistic; then researched. Not so unrealistic after all 5 stars
1/31/04 CB Movies like this hurt today's troubled teens even more. Does anyone care? 1 stars
1/20/04 Betty White Realistic, convincing teen drama; Hunter is amazing as the mother. 5 stars
1/12/04 S.D.S. This movie is great! it's a bit exajerated but it's brilliant 5 stars
1/06/04 George this movie really rocks!! 5 stars
1/05/04 Corey R. It seems like the director used this kid who "co-wrote as a gimmick for her own career. 2 stars
12/15/03 Meg why didn't the girl who "they said" co-wrote this, play the lead? 1 stars
11/25/03 Sonny S I knew this girl -and this movie is way exajerated. 3 stars
11/22/03 JD eh? 2 stars
11/17/03 Tweetie get real. 1 stars
10/07/03 R.Main Seen this movie before. Hollywood has run out of ideas. 2 stars
10/06/03 ownerofdajoint tough to watch but worth it 4 stars
10/04/03 john excellent attempt...catches a lot of the goings on 5 stars
10/02/03 Vivian I brought my thirteen year old daughter to this movie and both thought it was ridiculous. 2 stars
9/30/03 Lance Can I have my $8 back please? 2 stars
9/26/03 Corey R. It seems like this director used the kid who "co"-wrote as a gimmick for her own career. 1 stars
9/25/03 Meg Why didnt the girl who wrote it play the lead? 1 stars
9/13/03 Sonny S I knew this girl 4 stars
9/08/03 FrayLo I felt the same way after leaving American Beauty... which is good. 4 stars
8/29/03 --- In my top 5 of the year so far 5 stars
8/13/03 TZ Tried too hard to be "shocking!" way over the top. A bad version of "kids" or "manic" 1 stars
8/10/03 Carrie not very believable 3 stars
8/05/03 Lorenz Esguerra amazingingly realistic! 5 stars
6/13/03 JB blew me away... and spun me around a few times 5 stars
5/13/03 Pona This is an excellent film & well worth seeing - you could identify w/ the characters! 5 stars
5/12/03 tom bradley Best movie of 2003... HANDS DOWN! 5 stars
2/28/03 ash it was great, I loved it 5 stars
2/03/03 Charles amazing and profoundly disturbing, gave me the same feeling that i had after i saw Requiem 5 stars
2/01/03 Jenna Excellent film. Sheer brilliance. 5 stars
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  20-Aug-2003 (R)
  DVD: 27-Jan-2004



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