The Thirteenth Year
The Thirteenth Year is a 1999 TV movie comedy drama produced by Disney Enterprises, Inc. The film stars Chez Starbuck, Justin Jon Ross, Courtnee Draper and Dave Coulier, written by Jenny Arata, Robert L. Baird and Kelly Senecal, and directed by Duwayne Dunham.
Cody Griffin is an adopted teenager; his birth mother is a mermaid who left him on the Griffins' boat when he was a baby to avoid being captured. As she left, she was spotted by Mr. Wheatly, a fisherman who became obsessed with finding mermaids. Cody establishes himself as a quick swimmer in the town he lives in, and has a girlfriend named Sam. He's under a lot of pressure from a big swim meet coming up and because he's failing biology, he's partnered with Jess Wheatly, the class geek who is a marine biology expert.
After Cody's 13th birthday, he begins to feel strange. As he wakes up in the morning, he turns off his alarm clock and zaps it. Ignoring it, Cody drinks from a milk container, which he notices is stuck to his hand; he later also drinks large amounts of water. He goes to Jess for help, who agrees to figure out what's going on with him as long as Cody teaches him to swim in return. Jess runs various tests, learning Cody can generate electricity, climb walls (like Spider-Man) talk to fish, swim extremely fast, and when sometimes wet, scales appear on his hands and arms. Jess concludes that Cody is turning into a merman.
Despite all the odd things happening to him, as well as the objection of his adoptive parents when they found out, Cody decides to attend the swim meet. He not only wins the meet and beats Sean, but breaks the state speed record, with his scales appearing. Sean sees the scales and surmises Cody cheated, following him into the locker room. Cody avoids him by sticking to the ceiling, but Sean says he saw something and will find out what. Cody safely makes it out of the stadium and goes home with his parents after they find out he wasn't in his room; however, the scales are lasting longer now.
Cody tries calming his parents by claiming nobody saw him change, but Jess shows up and tells them he saw everything and that people are talking about Cody. Sam arrives and faints at the sight of Cody's scales. When she comes to, she is freaked out. Cody tells her he's still the same guy and to not be afraid. While sworn to secrecy for Cody's safety, Sam is disturbed by the discovery and leaves. The next morning Cody takes a swim, and meets his mermaid mother; however, Jess's father, who is the obsessed fisherman, spots them and ends the reunion.
Later that day, Cody meets Sam at the beach. She apologizes and they share a kiss. Cody then walks into the water with her, saying there's something he wants to show her. Cody's mother appears, with Sam complimenting her beauty; however, Cody suddenly gasps in pain and stumbles back to the shore. Writhing on the ground, he tells Sam to get his parents. After she leaves, Cody's feet turn into flippers. Thinking Sam came back, Cody is surprised when someone throws a blanket over him.
Jess comes down to where Cody is, but sees he is gone. He then sees his father's boat and panics because his father had seen Cody's fins at the swim meet earlier. Jess's father is planning on using Cody to lure in his mother to prove he's not crazy. Jess comes on board the boat, and Cody asks him for help. Despite trying to warn the mermaid away, Cody and Jess are unable to stop a fishing net from trapping her. Cody asks Jess to help his mother, so he takes a knife and jumps into the water to cut the net. He frees the mermaid, but his leg gets caught in the net, pulling him under. Jess passes out, but Cody jumps in and brings him to the dock where Jess's father, Cody's parents, and Sam are. Sam performs CPR, but is unsuccessful. Cody decides to zap Jess's heart, which successfully makes Jess come to. Jess then wonders if Cody's girlfriend was kissing him.
Cody's mermaid mother shows up again. She discovers her son is still alive and watches him and his family from afar. Cody explains she wants him to go with her because she's the only one who can help him with his changes. Cody's adoptive mother doesn't want him to leave, but the mermaid telepathically promises to send Cody back before school starts. After goodbyes, Jess asks Cody to tell him and his dad about the aquatic life he sees, and Sam makes Cody promise not to betray her by falling for mergirls. Cody dives into the water and completes his merman transformation with his mermaid mother's help. He swims back up and leaps through the surface, and waves goodbye to his friends and adoptive parents. Cody and his mother then swim off into a life below the surface.
- Bland plot.
- Humor that falls flat, mostly due to the actors' delivery.
- Cheesy dialogue and too much dumbstruck observations that state the obvious.
- Two-dimensional characters that can easily be described: the nerdy wimpy kid, the jock bully kid, the pretty girl who only dates the popular boy.
- The audience already knows from the beginning that Cody is a mermaid, but it gets drawn out for a so long that it feels like filler.
- The protagonist Cody Griffin (Chez Starbuck) just comes off as mean-spirited because he doesn't want to be with the nerdy kid despite him trying to be portrayed as the underdog.
- Shots that hold onto the scene for a bit too long.
- Scenes and characters that seem redundant and serve no real purpose.
- The film gives Cody confusing powers like producing static electricity and sticking on walls a la Spider-Man.
- Terrible Ear-bleeding music that plays during the end credits.
- The tuba sound effect that plays every time the nerd kid appears is a funny touch.
- The makeup, especially on Cody and his mother, are nicely-detailed.
- The film does have some nostalgic value, being a Disney Channel Original movie.