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The Thirteenth Year

Video cover
Approx. run time 95 minutes
Written by Jenny Arata
Robert L. Baird
Kelly Senecal
Directed by Duwayne Dunham
Produced by Thom Colwell
Heidi Wall
Mike Jacobs Jr.
Starring Chez Starbuck
Courtnee Draper
Music by Phil Marshall
Country United States
Language English
Original channel Disney Channel
Release date May 15, 1999 (1999-05-15)

The Thirteenth Year is a 1999 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. The ocean scenes were primary shot in the Newport Beach communities of Balboa Peninsula and Corona del Mar.

Plot summary

Chez Starbuck portrays an adopted teenager, Cody Griffin, growing up on Mahone Bay. Cody was left on his parents' boat by a stranger when he was a baby, and they decided to adopt him. Cody establishes himself as a quick 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 comes in second place to his rival Sean. The next day is Cody's birthday, where he makes friends with Jess, the class geek (who became his biology partner the day before). After Cody's thirteenth birthday, he begins to feel strange symptoms. 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 container, which leads to a scene of him attempting to let go of the container, and with some difficulty he does, but cannot find anything on his hands that would have caused this to happen. After agreeing to teach Jess to swim, Cody finds that scales have appeared all over his palms and fingers and small fins have protruded from his arms.

Later on, Cody holds out his palms, but the scales have disappeared. Jess decides to run some tests anyway to figure out what is happening to him. He 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. Eventually, he comes to the conclusion that Cody is turning into a merman. Cody has a choice of listening to his parents and not going to the swim meet (they want to protect him and don't want anyone to see), 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. Suspecting something, Jess looks through a book, and find that a mermaid's child can only live on land until puberty, and then physical changes will force them back to the sea.

Cody ends up showing his girlfriend, Sam, what happens to him when he gets wet. A chain of events is triggered when Cody is kidnapped and used as bait by Jess' father in attempt to catch his mermaid mother. Jess frees the mermaid after she is captured in a fishing net, but his leg gets tangled in the net and he nearly drowns. Once they get Jess out of the water, Sam gives him mouth to mouth. 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 friends arrive to say goodbye, his legs transform into a tail, and he returns to his mother in the sea. The mermaid promises to have Cody back to his adoptive parents before school starts.


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