THIRTEEN Add To My Top 10

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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
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Release Date: August 20, 2003

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed, and Jeremy Sisto

Genre: Drama

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Jerry
Langford THIRTEEN can easily
be considered every parent’s
worst nightmare for their
adolescent. In the movie,
13-year-old Tracy enters
middle school and quickly
surmises what it takes to be
the hot girl on campus. She
abandons her long-time friends
for her new best friend, Evie,
the most popular girl in
school. Within days or weeks,
Tracy transforms from a sweet
and respectful girl with
stuffed animals and dolls on
her bed to a drug-using,
caustic and angry teenager
willing to do anything to
secure a permanent position in
the in-crowd. Tracy, perfectly
played by Evan Rachel Wood,
fearlessly enters this
dangerous phase with wild
abandon and hormones raging.
It is as if she is venting
years of pent up anger about
her parents’ divorce and her
bio-dad’s neglect. Her mom,
Mel (stunningly portrayed by
Holly Hunter), gets the full
brunt of Tracy’s rebellious
teenage rage. Later, it is
heartbreaking to watch Mel
realize she is helpless to
control or reach her
daughter. Evie moves in with
Tracy, lying to Mel that she
is physically abused at home,
and the two girls’
relationship grows unimpeded.
Unknown to Tracy, Evie is
sexually attracted to her and
takes occasional opportunity
to show her affection (though
Tracy downplays these
overtures). Even Mel gets a
seemingly innocent kiss on the
lips from a thankful Evie, but
she also ignores the warning
flags clearly going off in her
head. Evie wastes no time to
teach Tracy about the social
practices and obligations of
the ultra-popular. Together,
they lie to avoid classes and
homework, parade through
school to garner attention
from the boys, steal in their
spare time, enjoy wild
shoplifting sprees, sell and
use drugs, date older guys,
freely offer casual sex, and
wear body piercings as proud
badges of their teenage
defiance and
independence. They ditch
friends, parents and,
eventually, each other in
their pursuit for their own
happiness or gratification.
Their actions are beyond cries
for help: the girls know what
they are doing and each
blindly rush down their
destructive paths. Within this
time, Tracy has gone from
honor student to failing
seventh grade. Mel tries to
intervene but is a struggling
single working mom. She lives
on an emotional edge herself,
attends 12-step classes with a
friend, and seeks refuge in
the company of her new
boyfriend. Tracy despises the
boyfriend, or despises her mom
being happy. In THIRTEEN,
Tracy radically redefines the
concept of mood swings. The
bio-dad, on the other hand, is
shown as neglectful of Tracy
and her brother. He is behind
on his child support payments,
out of touch with his kids,
and easily pulled by his job
and new family. He believes
that making more money for Mel
and the children is the best
solution, no matter the
problem. Scenes like these,
among so many others, make
this movie very difficult to
watch. THIRTEEN feels
frighteningly real. It is one
of the best arguments for
private Christian schools or
home-schooling that Hollywood
could ever devise. Of course,
even these cannot protect a
child intent on rebellion,
experimentation or
self-destruction, but the
movie makes a very strong case
for parental involvement. The
story concludes with Mel
breaking through to Tracy and
communicating her
unconditional love through
tears and great pain. Still,
Tracy is profoundly adrift and
so much damage has been done
in her life. Mel believes a
mother’s love can be enough
to grip a wayward child, but
she offers no moral grounding
or spiritual
foundation. THIRTEEN was
co-written by the director and
13-year-old Nikki Reed, who
plays the role of Evie. The
result is a story that is
terrifyingly believable,
filled with intensely
disturbing content, and
shocking to any remaining
naïve parents out
there. THIRTEEN takes on
beauty, family, popularity,
divorce, cell phones, and
adolescence with fierce
abandon. It is a brutal story
to watch and equally brutal to
its subject matter. It
presents many problems
teengers face today, but it
offers no compelling evidence
that its proposed solutions
will work. A clever series of
scenes include a billboard
campaign advertising “Beauty
Is Truth.” As Tracy’s
world spins out of control,
more and more graffiti appears
on these ads. It is a sly
criticism on our culture’s
lack of values. THIRTEEN
offers no replacement for
these bad values, however.
Ironically, Mel repeatedly
wears a T-shirt with a
fancifully designed cross on
it. All the while, that cross
of Christ is ignored. The name
of Jesus is only uttered in
vain or as an expletive.
THIRTEEN is a hollow cry about
lost innocence, but its real
sadness is its own lack of
answers. Please address your
comments to: Lindsay Law,
President Fox Searchlight
Pictures 20th Century Fox Film
Corp. A Division of Fox,
Inc. 10201 West Pico Blvd.,
Bldg. 38 Los Angeles, CA
90035 Phone: (310) 369-4402

Rating: R

Runtime: 99 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(PaPaPa, FeFe, HoHo, LLL, VV, SS, NNN, AA, DDD, MMM) Pagan worldview about a 13-year-old girl doing whatever it takes to be popular with strong feminist and homosexual elements; at least 106 obscenities (with 51 “f” words), six profanities, eight blasphemies, obscene T-shirt slogans, and obscene gestures; graphic violence includes teen girls striking each other’s faces for fun, bloody self-mutilation with razor and scissors, self-piercing navel shown, and tongue piercing implied; implied oral sex, couples live together, couple kisses in bed (clothed), teenage girls passionately kiss each other, other teenagers kiss, undress and fondle, teenage girl “flashes” younger boy, man barely avoids teens’ seduction, calling them “jail bait”; scenes of men and women in underwear and full female nudity; smoking; drinking and much drug use; and, lying, shoplifting portrayed as cool, stealing rewarded by other teenagers, disrespect to parents, teachers and others, teen/peer cruelty shown, divorce subtly indicted, and mom screams in frustration to her family, “You think I want to be here?!”

GENRE: Drama

PaPaPa

FeFe

HoHo

LLL

VV

SS

NNN

AA

DDD

MMM

Summary:

THIRTEEN can easily be considered every parent’s worst nightmare for their adolescent because, in the movie, 13-year-old Tracy enters middle school and transforms from a sweet and respectful girl with stuffed animals and dolls on her bed to a drug-using, caustic and angry teenager willing to do anything to secure a permanent position in the in-crowd. Despite its talented cast, THIRTEEN’s hollow cry about lost innocence is drowned out by its own lack of solutions.

Review:

THIRTEEN can easily be considered every parent’s worst nightmare for their adolescent. In the movie, 13-year-old Tracy enters middle school and quickly surmises what it takes to be the hot girl on campus. She abandons her long-time friends for her new best friend, Evie, the most popular girl in school. Within days or weeks, Tracy transforms from a sweet and respectful girl with stuffed animals and dolls on her bed to a drug-using, caustic and angry teenager willing to do anything to secure a permanent position in the in-crowd.

Tracy, perfectly played by Evan Rachel Wood, fearlessly enters this dangerous phase with wild abandon and hormones raging. It is as if she is venting years of pent up anger about her parents’ divorce and her bio-dad’s neglect. Her mom, Mel (stunningly portrayed by Holly Hunter), gets the full brunt of Tracy’s rebellious teenage rage. Later, it is heartbreaking to watch Mel realize she is helpless to control or reach her daughter.

Evie moves in with Tracy, lying to Mel that she is physically abused at home, and the two girls’ relationship grows unimpeded. Unknown to Tracy, Evie is sexually attracted to her and takes occasional opportunity to show her affection (though Tracy downplays these overtures). Even Mel gets a seemingly innocent kiss on the lips from a thankful Evie, but she also ignores the warning flags clearly going off in her head.

Evie wastes no time to teach Tracy about the social practices and obligations of the ultra-popular. Together, they lie to avoid classes and homework, parade through school to garner attention from the boys, steal in their spare time, enjoy wild shoplifting sprees, sell and use drugs, date older guys, freely offer casual sex, and wear body piercings as proud badges of their teenage defiance and independence.

They ditch friends, parents and, eventually, each other in their pursuit for their own happiness or gratification. Their actions are beyond cries for help: the girls know what they are doing and each blindly rush down their destructive paths. Within this time, Tracy has gone from honor student to failing seventh grade.

Mel tries to intervene but is a struggling single working mom. She lives on an emotional edge herself, attends 12-step classes with a friend, and seeks refuge in the company of her new boyfriend. Tracy despises the boyfriend, or despises her mom being happy. In THIRTEEN, Tracy radically redefines the concept of mood swings.

The bio-dad, on the other hand, is shown as neglectful of Tracy and her brother. He is behind on his child support payments, out of touch with his kids, and easily pulled by his job and new family. He believes that making more money for Mel and the children is the best solution, no matter the problem. Scenes like these, among so many others, make this movie very difficult to watch.

THIRTEEN feels frighteningly real. It is one of the best arguments for private Christian schools or home-schooling that Hollywood could ever devise. Of course, even these cannot protect a child intent on rebellion, experimentation or self-destruction, but the movie makes a very strong case for parental involvement.

The story concludes with Mel breaking through to Tracy and communicating her unconditional love through tears and great pain. Still, Tracy is profoundly adrift and so much damage has been done in her life. Mel believes a mother’s love can be enough to grip a wayward child, but she offers no moral grounding or spiritual foundation.

THIRTEEN was co-written by the director and 13-year-old Nikki Reed, who plays the role of Evie. The result is a story that is terrifyingly believable, filled with intensely disturbing content, and shocking to any remaining naïve parents out there.

THIRTEEN takes on beauty, family, popularity, divorce, cell phones, and adolescence with fierce abandon. It is a brutal story to watch and equally brutal to its subject matter. It presents many problems teengers face today, but it offers no compelling evidence that its proposed solutions will work. A clever series of scenes include a billboard campaign advertising “Beauty Is Truth.” As Tracy’s world spins out of control, more and more graffiti appears on these ads. It is a sly criticism on our culture’s lack of values.

THIRTEEN offers no replacement for these bad values, however. Ironically, Mel repeatedly wears a T-shirt with a fancifully designed cross on it. All the while, that cross of Christ is ignored. The name of Jesus is only uttered in vain or as an expletive. THIRTEEN is a hollow cry about lost innocence, but its real sadness is its own lack of answers.

Please address your comments to:

Lindsay Law, President

Fox Searchlight Pictures

20th Century Fox Film Corp.

A Division of Fox, Inc.

10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone: (310) 369-4402

SUMMARY: THIRTEEN can easily be considered every parent’s worst nightmare for their adolescent because, in the movie, 13-year-old Tracy enters middle school and transforms from a sweet and respectful girl with stuffed animals and dolls on her bed to a drug-using, caustic and angry teenager willing to do anything to secure a permanent position in the in-crowd. Despite its talented cast, THIRTEEN’s hollow cry about lost innocence is drowned out by its own lack of solutions.

In Brief: