Thirteen (2003) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 8

directing 8

effects 8

editing 8

writing 8


4 out of 5 🐙


This film is definitely the spiritual ancestor to the fantastic Eighth Grade (2019). Evan Rachel Wood is explosive. She was only 14 when the film was shooting. It’s refreshing to see an actor cast for the role of a character who is actually close to their actual age.No disrespect meant to Alison Lohman (age 24), who did a great job as a 14-year-old in Matchstick Men. And it’s always nice to see new talent on screen. Holly Hunter is awesome, as always. She shows more patience than Job and is still there for her daughter when everything collapses. Catherine Hardwicke’s first screenplay and directing effort was a bravura debut. Her decision (while it may have been a factor of her budget, not her creativity) to use digital to film the movie gives it a gritty, realistic documentary feel.

According to some advertising at the time, Hardwicke wrote this film with actor Nikki Reed (the other lead), who was thirteen at the time. My sources, unfortunately, told me this is pure crap. It’s just a nice marketing touch. The script was written by Hardwicke entirely and about once every four or five hours, Reed was asked for input. It’s sad that this bullshit was attached to such a fine film. Luckily some speck of decency on the studio’s part or maybe just oversight by a marketing intern prevented it from being used as a mass marketing tool. And it’s even sadder that Hardwicke thinks she could get people to believe that a thirteen-year-old would be capable of such mature dialogue. What a load of shit. It’s an insult to professional writers everywhere.

Thirteen is the story of peer pressure. Not all thirteen-year-olds will turn out like Evie (Reed) and Tracy (Wood) but they are all emotional lightning rods that hold that potential. Most people left Thirteen thinking it was unrealistic in 2003. A woman in front of me said, “I’ve never known a thirteen-year-old like that.” But the week before the film was released in 2003, a five-year-old brought in a bong she made herself for show and tell. And in the saddest story from Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore painfully reminded us of the six-year-old boy who shot and killed his six-year-old classmate. Kids are growing up a lot faster than I ever did and Thirteen is a shockingly almost quaint by today’s standards of accelerated, unhealthy development.







(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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