“Matty! It’s ‘Thriller’!” That line alone proves Jennifer Garner’s 2004 film 13 Going On 30 is as iconic as it ever was. Even though it was released over a decade ago, the movie continues to pick up new fans of all generations — if only because pop star Ariana Grande rocked the dress Jenna Rink wears in the movie. Or, for that matter, because Christa B. Allen, who played young Jenna, actually turned *30* IRL in 2021 and wore the same dress to celebrate the occasion. Any way you slice it, the film is truly an early aughts cult classic that’s family-friendly enough to watch with your tween or teen. And when you finish re-watching it for the umpteenth time, you’re probably also going to want recs for more movies like 13 Going on 30. Don’t worry; like Jenna coming up with a campaign to save Poise Magazine, we put our skills to good use by tracking down other feel-good movies worthy of watching while you snack on some Razzles.
What makes the movie that inspired this list so memorable? Uh, where do we start? It’s chock-full of ’90s nostalgia, for one. Then there’s the matter of the all-star cast: Jennifer Garner (Jenna), Mark Ruffalo (Matt Flamhaff), Judy Greer (Lucy Wyman), Andy Serkis (Richard Kneeland), Kathy Baker (Bev Rink), and more. And the story itself is so much fun: A 13-year-old girl longs to be a 30-year-old adult, and she ultimately gets her wish on her birthday. However, hilarity ensues as she navigates life as a magazine editor and deals with her frenemy, Lucy, played by Greer.
Greer told Insider on 13 Going On 30‘s 15th anniversary that she’ll never forget filming the movie, the dance scenes, or how hard it was to play a mean girl after always landing more goofy and comedic roles. Still, despite the difficulties, Greer ultimately said that she was “so sad it wasn’t a TV show.” Greer added, “I thought, ‘This is a job I’d want to go to every day for eight years.'” If only! While there have many talks of a sequel or a reboot over the years, there’s nothing in the works just yet — though a TV series would be music to fans’ ears.
Until that fateful day, here are a bunch of similar picks to watch while you bide the time.
Sweet, Sentimental Movies Like 13 Going On 30
1. Miss Congeniality (2000)
The great Sandra Bullock stars in this 2000 film about an FBI agent who goes undercover at a beauty pageant, despite being the kind of woman who is way more comfortable in her casual work pants than in a pageant dress and heels. Although she hits some roadblocks going full undercover, she ultimately learns a lot about herself through the process, much like Jenna Rink.
2. Freaky Friday (2003)
Without the original 1976 Freaky Friday, there could be no 13 Going On 30. The best version, though, is the 2003 version starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. In it, the two play a daughter and mother who end up in each other’s bodies. While it’s not quite the same as Jenna Rink ending up as a 30-year-old magazine editor, the premise is somewhat similar. Here, the identity swap leads to both teen and mom understanding a whole lot more about each other than they ever could over a dinner table.
3. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
If you like the workplace setting of 13 Going On 30, this one is worth rewatching. Starring Meryl Streep as an evil Anna Wintour type and Anne Hathaway as her hapless intern, this movie is just as iconic as 13 Going On 30 and sure to be a favorite of teens (and teens at heart) for generations to come. Fun fact? According to an oral history the cast did with EW on the movie’s 15th anniversary, almost no designers or people from the fashion world wanted to be associated with filming the movie. Why? Out of fear that Wintour, the editor of Vogue and supposedly the loose inspiration for Streep’s character, would catch wind of it and blacklist them.
4. She’s All That (1999)
There’s no body-swapping or magic in this movie, but if you just want an easy and amusing (albeit sometimes problematic) teen movie to watch, this is a good go-to. In the 1999 movie, Freddie Prinze Jr. plays the high school’s hottest guy, who gets dared into going to prom with the school’s resident geek, played by Rachel Leigh Cook. They end up falling for each other, but not before she stereotypically removes her glasses on prom night to reveal that she is, in fact, beautiful. We said it was problematic, right? Still fun, though.
5. Never Been Kissed (1999)
Drew Barrymore stars in this movie about going undercover at a high school and reliving some of the worst years of her life. Having suffered through high school bullying and obviously, never being kissed, Barrymore’s Josie gets a chance to have the high school experience she actually always wanted.
6. Love & Basketball (2000)
Like 13 Going on 30, this movie never gets old! And like 13 Going on 30, it tells the story of two childhood best friends — in this case, Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) — whose relationship grows into something more. Did we mention there’s basketball, too? How about the fact that other stars of the film include Kyla Pratt, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert, Regina Hall, and Gabrielle Union? It’s a must-watch.
7. 17 Again (2009)
Zac Efron and Matthew Perry take a fresh take on a classic film. Mike is a 34-year-old man going through a divorce, and one night he gets a magical second chance at his high school senior year. When Mike becomes 17 again (Efron), he's given a chance to reconnect with his kids and wife. In the end, Mike must choose between an epic redo or salvaging the messy life he already has.
7. What Women Want (2000)
A chauvinist advertising executive is given the power to read women's minds. He takes advantage of his superpower by using it to do better at his job and maximize his love life. But when he starts to fall in love with his superior, he decides to use his gift for good and put aside his bachelor lifestyle.
More Whimsical Rom-Coms to Watch
- Uptown Girls (2003)
- Big (1988)
- When in Rome (2010)
- Hitch (2005)
- Just Like Heaven (2005)
- Wild Child (2008)
- Clueless (1995)
- Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
- Kate & Leopold (2001)
- Love Jones (1997)
- Penelope (2006)
- Love, Rosie (2014)
- Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
- Serendipity (2001)
- Beauty Shop (2005)
- The Holiday (2006)
- Splash (1984)
- Little (2019)
- Coming to America (1988)
- The Princess Diaries (2001)
- Maid in Manhattan (2002)
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