The Thirteenth Year
The movie cover for The Thirteenth Year.
Directed by Duwayne Dunham
Produced by Thom Colwell
Heidi Wall
Mike Jacobs Jr.
Written by Jenny Arata
Robert L. Baird
Kelly Senecal
Starring Chez Starbuck,
Courtnee Draper
Music by Phil Marshall
Distributed by The Disney Channel
Release date(s) May 15 1999
Running time 95 min.
Language English
IMDb profile

The Thirteenth Year is the eighth Disney Channel Original Movie. It was released May 15, 1999 and is a mix of comedy and fantasy. The film was directed by Duwayne Dunham who has directed other children and Disney movies including Little Giants and Halloweentown.

Plot Summary

Chez Starbuck portrays an adopted teenager, Cody Griffin, growing up on Mahone Bay. Cody was left on the Griffin's boat by a stranger when he was a baby. Unable to find the baby's parents, they decided to adopt him. An older Cody establishes himself as a fast swimmer in the town he lives in, attracting the attention of a girl named Sam. As the movie begins, a large swim meet is coming up. Cody is late getting there, but makes it just in time for his race. Cody comes in second place to his rival Sean, however, their combined finishes allow the team to advance to the state finals.

The next day in class, Cody is the big man on campus for his performance in the race. However, it is shown that he is failing biology, and that he must do well on the next project. His assigned partner is the class geek, Jess. Jess tries to arrange a meeting time for the next day, but Cody refuses. The next day is Cody's birthday, and he off-handedly invites Jess.

After Cody's thirteenth birthday, he begins to feel strange symptoms. That night, he has an unusual dream about swimming in the ocean. As he wakes up in the morning, he goes to turn off his alarm clock and ends up electrifying it. Thinking nothing of it, Cody goes downstairs and starts to drink orange juice, noticing his hand getting stuck to the carton, which leads to a scene of him attempting to let go of the carton. With some difficulty he is able to, but an examination cannot find anything on his hands that would have caused this to happen. Cody then meets with Jess for the project. Cody discovers that Jess's hobby is marine biology, the subject of their project. Wanting to pass, Cody asks Jess to tutor him, in exchange for a favor. Jess agrees, and asks Cody to teach him to swim, as he is unable to. After agreeing to teach Jess to swim, Cody shockingly finds that scales have appeared all over his palms and fingers.

Back home, Cody holds out his palms, but the scales have disappeared. As the days pass, the scales continue to appear sometimes when Cody gets wet. Cody attempts to tell his parents, but they only begin to notice when Cody's sticky hands and feet cause him to be stuck to the ceiling. They take Cody to his doctor, who diagnoses the condition as puberty.

Cody disputes the doctor's diagnosis, and so he asks Jess to run some tests anyway to figure out what is happening to him, as the scales appear fishy. From his tests, Jess learns that Cody can generate electricity, climb walls, talk to fish, swim extremely fast, and sometimes when he gets wet, scales appear on his hands and arms. Jess however, doesn't have an explanation until he goes through some of his father's files. 13 years before, Jess's father, John, had claimed to see a mermaid while in his boat on the bay. Since then, John had been obsessed with proving that he was telling the truth, as no one believed him, and had been collecting mermaid information. One document in particular, states that mermaid can pass for human until they are 13, at which time the fish half begins to take over. With this information, Jess comes to the conclusion that Cody is turning into a merman.

When told of this by Jess, Cody is in disbelief at first, but then realizes that since he was adopted, that it could be true. Cody decides that finding his birth parents might help explain things, and talks to his parents. Cody tells them of Jess's tests, but when his parents don't believe him, Cody is forced to show them the scales that appear when he gets wet. The Griffins tell Cody of how he was found, but forbid Cody from going into the water, as it seems to trigger his changes. This also forbids Cody from attending the state swim meet with his team, as Cody would run the risk of being discovered.

Cody has a choice of listening to his parents and not going to the swim meet, or going for the most important thing that matters to him (right then). He decides to go. He wins his race and sets a new state record, but his swim rival notices Cody's fins. Cody is forced to hide on the ceiling using his ability to climb walls. Cody is rushed back home by his parents, but Sam comes as well, and sees Cody while he still has fins. She promises the family that she won't tell about Cody, but begins avoiding him out of shock.

Later on, Cody sneaks out to swim one night, and ends up meeting a mermaid, who is his mother. She is able to help Cody with his transformation, but the pair are discovered by Jess's father. They manage to get away, but John begins plotting to catch the mermaid.

The next day, Cody ends up showing his girlfriend, Sam, his mother. The two apologize, but Sam if forced to go for help after Cody's transformation triggers. Cody is left helpless on the beach as his feet become fins, and a chain of events is triggered when Cody is kidnapped and used as bait by Jess' father in an attempt to catch his mermaid mother. Jess, who has come to help Cody, frees the mermaid after she is captured in a fishing net, but his leg gets tangled in the net and he nearly drowns. Cody rescues Jess, and brings him to shore as his parents arrive with Sam. In the film's climax, Cody uses his "powers" to heal Jess with a shock like that of an AED coming from his hands. At this point, Cody's parents see his mother, but are initally afraid to let Cody go with her so that she can help him. They do allow Cody to go with her, however when the mermaid promises to have Cody back to his adoptive parents before school starts. They say goodbye, and he returns to his mother in the sea, where she helps to transform into a tail.


External links

Preceded by
Can of Worms
Disney Channel Original Movies Succeeded by
Smart House