Young at Heart

I love Jennifer Garner.

Every week on ABC's Alias I've watched her travel the world as CIA Agent Sydney Bristow, in the first season juggling a college life and friends with her duties to her country. She's been serious, focused, and emotional only when her "Lola rennt"-paced life has allowed her. In Daredevil she played Elektra, the daughter of a Greek diplomat who becomes a Sai-wielding warrior. She copes with both loss and betrayal over the course of the movie in some beautiful Evanescence-scored scenes, and I'm definitely looking forward to the Elektra movie.(Whoa---! General Zod as Stick--great casting!)

When she's not sprinting on a set in a flurry of female empowerment and stress-relieving righteous violence, Jennifer Garner is a down-to-Earth, sweet West Virginian girl, evidenced in various talk show appearances. She herself said in a special features segment on the 13 Going on 30 DVD that her Alias co-stars thought she'd be perfect for the role of a thirteen year old who suddenly finds herself thirty after a birthday wish goes awry. She also reveals that in high school she was something of a band geek, playing saxophone and forming a pep band for the school basketball team. I can recall one particularly strong crush I had on a girl in band back in middle school, but I would still say girls like Jennifer are particularly rare in New York.

Several of my co-workers had said 13 Going on 30 was good, although one found aspects of it depressing. That piqued my curiosity as it seemed light in the trailers, and though the movie is for the most part a nostalgic fairy tale romp, it can take its viewer on an emotional roller coaster.

Perhaps the part that resonated the most with me was the realistic depiction of the social hierarchy in high school. As a teenage girl she has one true friend in the boy next door, whom she realizes too late as a thirty year old is the guy for her. I won't ruin the movie by saying whether or not things work out for them, but one scene in particular with the teenagers was painfully true to life. To impress the popular girls, she berates the boy in front of everyone else, and he leaves to the tune of their laughter. It brought back memories of my own childhood, and the girl next door to whom as a five year old I would regularly declare my intentions of marriage. Granted, when I was five years old, I thought I was Spider-man, so you could hardly say we were engaged. But as we got older she became friends with this other girl who liked to make fun of me, and she joined in. When we were alone, she "explained" that when we were alone we were friends, but when this other girl was there she had to make fun of me. So, with the true quality of her character revealed, we drifted apart thankfully.

Girls like Jennifer Garner are rare in New York. But the other important message I got from the film was the importance of youth. When everyone around her is too serious and bogged down in the weights and duties of being an adult, she offers a refreshing perspective that allows those around her to realize that it's OK to let your inner child out to play once in a while. Watch an old music video. Eat a candy you haven't had since you were a kid. Write blog entries about comic books and cartoon voiceover actors. Maturity and responsibility are important, but it's nice to be able to take an emotional vacation once in a while.

As Frank Sinatra once sang:

"....if you should survive to 105
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive
Then here is the best part
You have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart."


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