Director: Burr Stears
Cast: Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon,
Matthew Perry, Michelle Trachtenberg, Melora Hardin
RunTime: 1 hr 42 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Official Website: http://www.17againmovie.com/
Opening Day: 16 April 2009
What would you do if you got
a second shot at life? Class of 1989, Mike O’Donnell
is a star on his high school basketball court with a college
scout in the stands and a bright future in his grasp. But
instead, he decides to throw it all away to share his life
with his girlfriend Scarlett and the baby he just learned
they are expecting. Almost 20 years later, Mike’s glory
days are decidedly behind him. His marriage to Scarlett has
fallen apart, he has been passed over for a promotion at work,
his teenage kids think he is a loser, and he has been reduced
to crashing with his high school nerd-turned-techno-billionaire
best friend Ned. But Mike is given another chance when he
is miraculously transformed back to the age of 17. Unfortunately,
Mike may look 17 again, but his thirtysomething outlook is
totally uncool in the class of 2009. And in trying to recapture
his best years, Mike could lose the best things that ever
happened to him.
High School Musical star and teenage heartthrob Zac Efron’s latest screen outing, 17 Again, has all the makings of the aforementioned franchise that he ironically tries to shake off. Though this one man vehicle might prove to be stale to audiences suffering from Disney overdose, fans will lap it up with panache as the teenybopper sensation takes on the role of Mike O’Donnell, a 37 year old man in a high school student’s body.
Adult Mike (Matthew Perry) finds himself in the doldrums and longing for salvation from his family and work, both in tatters. A lifeline gets thrown to him when offered the chance to relive his glory days as a teen, albeit in the present day. Hilarity ensues as Mike returns to school with the help of buddy Ned (Thomas Lennon) and attempts to atone for the neglect of his two pubescent kids and wife scrambling for a divorce. Amidst this, Mike cultivates his paternal instincts and learns to appreciate what he has with his other half, Scarlett (Leslie Mann).
Once again, Efron is in familiar territory, strutting his stuff as he sashays down the hallway of yet another high school, this time in 17 Again. Inevitably, his star is set to lose its shine if he fails to move away from his cookie-cutter image despite riding high on the waves of fame (read: Freddie Prinze Jr, remember him?) 17 Again is obviously banking on Efron to reel in the cash and sees him sending many a teenage girls’ hearts into a flurry. One can almost feel this ripple effect as he cruises past the crowd into school, clad in a too cool for school ensemble of leather jacket and shades. Efron effortlessly channels charisma into lead character Mike and brings in a few laughs with snappy one-liners but it is really the eccentric Ned that will cause peals of laughter among audiences. Decked out in equally gaudy togs, Ned is a walking joke himself. Also, fans of The Lord of the Rings are in for a surprising treat here with the numerous references to look out for from Ned’s outrageous wooing of the high school principal.
Still, audiences are bound to experience déjà vu again with this film that bears parallels to similar body swapping/changing movies like Disney’s Freaky Friday and the Jennifer Garner starring film, 13 Going On 30. However, unlike the scene stealing antics of Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday, 17 Again possesses none of that, making it difficult to like since this premise has been reused so frequently. Bland and coming across as a little juvenile at times, 17 Again is passable but it’s been here, done that for this tiring concept that should really be retired. This one’s for the teens.
Review by Priscilla Gan
(Ultimately a pedestal for Zac Efron and his legions of swooning fans to admire)