Review by Camden Ferrell
13: The Musical is a new musical comedy based on the Broadway musical of the same name that premiered in 2007. This movie is directed by Tamra Davis who has most recently directed episodes of shows like High School Musical: The Musical – The Series and Dead to Me to name a few. Featuring a predominately young cast, this movie boasts some amazing musical numbers that make it worth the watch even if everything in between is hit or miss.
Evan Goldman is a Jewish teenager who is about to have his Bar Mitzvah. This is supposed to be a huge celebration with an amazing party for all his friends. The problem is that he is now moving from New York City to a small Indiana town where he doesn’t know anyone. Here, he is on a quest to come of age and make sure his party is memorable for everyone at his new school.
The most important aspect of the movie is its music and its musical numbers, and it succeeds on both fronts. The songs aren’t complex or particularly clever with its lyrics, but they are extremely catchy and effective at progressing its story and developing its characters. The choreography is great, and the music is exciting and adorably charming throughout. The standout songs are the opening number “13” as well as “Opportunity”.
Eli Golden leads the film as Evan, and he’s a charismatic lead that is quite capable for an actor his age. Many young viewers will resonate with his character and the struggles he faces. While all the young stars are talented in their own ways, I will say that I was particularly impressed with the performance of Frankie McNellis who plays Lucy. She takes on this mean girl trope with ease and delivers a great performance in her musical numbers and in regular scenes, and I sincerely hope we see more from her soon.
On a technical level, the movie doesn’t really aspire to be much, but it also doesn’t need to. The appeal of the movie is its relatable and simple story and talented young ensemble. Even though there are some adult stars, the movie makes them take a back seat to give the young cast a chance to shine. It puts a lot of faith in its inexperienced cast. It works delightfully in the musical sequences, and it becomes a little less consistent in regular scenes. Regardless, one must commend the young cast and their efforts.
13: The Musical is a harmless and quite enjoyable movie for theater fans, young audiences, and families. It has great themes and messages with wholesome characters that younger viewers will love. It may not be great, but one can’t help but be entranced by its simple and feel-good story.
13: The Musical is streaming on Netflix August 12.