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Movie Review: Thirteen

Alternate Title: Sugar and Spice and Ouch!

Story: When Maurice Chevalier sang Thank heaven for little girls he most certainly was NOT singing about the thirteen your old girl depicted in this cautionary tale of her four month descent into hell.

Seemingly normal, Barbie doll playing, Tracy enters 7th grade and longs to be cool. After hooking up with the 'cool, fast girl' in her class her ride into the abyss begins. Very quickly we witness smoking, petty thievery, lies, mood swings, casual sex and of course, drugs.

First time director Catherine Hardwicke (who also co-wrote the script with the cool, fast girl Nikki Reed) leaves very little to the imagination. It's a roller coaster descent that's exhausting to watch. Complete with jiggly camera and bleached film I sat mesmerized at what I was watching. (I longed for some Mary Kate and Ashley, The Olsen Twins, hi-jinks.)

The film has many positives to mention including the acting and no-prisoners approach to the subject matter. However, I found the ending came too quickly and was perhaps a bit unbelievable. I think a lot ended up on the cutting room floor.

The Planned Parenthood Organization would do well to set up a new members' table in the theater lobby wherever this film is shown. As my movie buddy and I were walking home we discussed what we were doing when we were in 7th grade. It was a far cry from this story.

Acting: Evan Rachel Wood (TV's Once and Again) is terrific as the troubled thirteen year old. I had no problem believing her mood swings and her descent. Holly Hunter at 45 looks great. She is always good and this film is no exception. New comer Nikki Reed is also fine as the 'cool, fast girl.' The males in this film are generally not treated in a good light.

Predilection: None.

Critters: A chicken and a dog.

Food: Food was cooked and often thrown - but generally, not eaten.

Visual Art: Lots of posters in the girls' rooms of teenage heart throbs.

Blatant Product Placement: Too many products to mention.

Soundtrack: Loud

Opening Titles: None.

Theater Audience: Just us and two other guys.

Sappy Factor: 0 - (You all know that I HATE sappy stuff, but even I could have used a little in this hard edged film).

Quirky Meter: 2

Squirm Scale: High - I am not a fan of piercing, scarification or skin cutting. There were too many moments when I (we) had to cover our eyes - I believe we also gasped and groaned a few times.

Predictability Level: Moderate - I thought worse stuff was going to happen to our little thirteen year old.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: Needed some editing.

Big Screen or Rental: I think rental would be fine. For some other fine Holly Hunter films check out: O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Timecode, Jesus' Son, Living Out Loud, A Life Less Ordinary, Home for the Holidays, The Piano, The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, Always, Miss Firecracker, Broadcast News, Raising Arizona.

Length: 95 minutes (but it seemed much longer).