When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mermaid. Actually, I’m 22 now and I still want to be a mermaid! That is why I have always loved to watch “The Thirteenth Year!” In the first scene of the movie, a mermaid leaves her baby on a boat in the middle of the ocean. While she’s in the water, a fisherman sees her and becomes obsessed. Thirteen years later, we see that the couple who owned the boat have adopted the baby boy and named him Cody Griffin. Fitting perfectly with who his biological parents are, Cody is a star athlete on his school’s swim team. Also on the swim team are a girl named, Sam, and another boy named, Shawn. A nerdy boy at the school who can’t swim is named Jess. He is the son of the man who become obsessed with mermaids after seeing Cody’s mermaid mom thirteen years ago. Both Shawn and Cody like Sam, but she only likes Cody. They actually become boyfriend and girlfriend by the end of the movie.
As the story suggests, Cody has just had his thirteenth birthday. Unlike the traditional puberty all boys start to go through in their teen years, Cody starts to develop fishlike habits. First, he becomes addicted to water. Then he starts to grow scales when he gets wet. Next, he starts to attract static electricity. This little discovery comes on his birthday when Sam gives him his birthday gift. First she gives him a picture of herself and then she gives him a kiss. When they kiss, there is literally a spark between them. Then, when they’re on a date for dinner, they hold hands and Sam’s hair gets all staticy. When she finds out he is a merman, she freaks out and avoids him at first. Eventually, she gets over how freaky it is and accepts Cody for who he is. To prove it to him, because he’s worried she might freak out again, she kisses him again and then he takes her into the water.
At first, Cody picks on Jess like the other guys on the swim team, but then he realizes they can both benefit from a friendship. Jess helps Cody with biology and in return, Cody teaches him how to swim. When Cody starts to grow his scales, Jess also starts to help Cody figure out what’s going on with him. Since his dad is obsessed with mermaids, his studies help Jess figure out what’s going on with Cody. As they both suspect without saying it out loud, Jess and Cody learn that Cody is in fact a merman.
When Cody tries to tell his parents that something is wrong, they don’t believe him at first. They believe in natural medicine, because Cody’s mom doesn’t like doctors— “They’re quacks with stethoscopes,” she thinks. When Cody finds himself stuck to the ceiling of his bedroom, his parents decide to consult a doctor who tells them it’s just puberty. Obviously, that’s not true though, because before they know it, Cody’s scales are turning into full blown fins. Eventually, he learns that his mermaid mother has been trying to communicate with him through a dream so that she can help with his new found abilities. When he finds her, he and his parents decide that what’s best for him is that he spend the summer with her so that he can learn about who he really is. Before he leaves, Sam tells him not to fall for any mermaids while he’s gone and he swears he won’t.
What I love about this movie, other than the fact that Cody turns into a merman, is that it’s a great lesson on friendship. Cody and Jess show us that the popular athlete and the nerdy weirdo can become best friends. Cody and Sam show us that being different doesn’t mean you can’t be normal or that you can’t be loved. They may only be thirteen, but Cody and Sam are in love. Even though they are only thirteen, I like to think Cody and Sam grew up and had their own little half-human, half-merman babies.