13: The Musical: A teen musical, wholesome for some, tiresome for many!

by Hailey Greg

Directed by Tamra Davis, the much-anticipated film of the season 13: The Musical has finally hit the cinemas, however, the initial reviews are not so encouraging. The film stars Eli Golden, Debra Messing, Frankie McNellis, JD McCrary and Josh Peck in pivotal roles and from the first look of it, is a conventional teenage story featuring many pop songs.

The story of 13: The Musical revolves around a 12-year-old boy who moves to Indiana from New York City and navigates his parents’ divorce while awaiting his 13th birthday to commemorate bar mitzvah and of course, blending into the social circles of his new school. While the film has comedic scenes that are absolutely hilarious, it feels like they should have spent more time on character building and exploring their relationship which would have been more significant to the plot. 

Even people who have no experience in stage production would have guessed that the film might have worked if it was presented as a musical live. The film follows a middle school student but it is also enjoyable for adults who wish to see their children do stuff customarily meant for grown-ups. This also reminds us of the famous musical by Alan Parker in 1976 “Bugsy Malone” which was more of prohibition-era bootleggers portrayed by a bunch of kids. 

Now back to 13: The Musical where Evan Goldman played by Eli Golden plates the protagonist of the story. The news of his parent’s divorce leaves him disappointed and he has no option but to leave his hometown in  New York City and move with his mother to her small hometown Walkerton in Indiana. As his 13th birthday is nearing, Evan is also looking forward to making new friends so that he could invite them to his Bar Mitzvah. Eyeing the best coming-of-age party, Evan tries to blend into the social circles of his new school.  

Evan, his mother, and his grandmother are the only Jewish people in Walkerton. Moreover, he makes his first friend in town Patrice who turns out to be the school outcast. However, he immediately drops her to get in with popular kids Brett, Kendra, and de facto antagonist Lucy (Frankie McNellis). But having watched these mainstream teenage movies all our life, we know this decision is going to pose a lot of problems for Evan in the future. 

The film begins with Evan having the most misconceptions about small-town life but after he gets to experience it, his narrative changes over time. It’s a fun movie for early teens who idealize school social life. At first, Evan was not liked by his new schoolmates but as they got to know eventually, they became friends. This proves you don’t have to fake your personality in order to mingle with the popular crowd. 

Released on August 12, 13: The Musical is available on Netflix with a runtime of  91 minutes long.

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