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Review: 17 Again

Apr. 17, 2009by: Chris Bumbray

Plot: Mike ODonnell (Zac Efron) seemingly has it all- popularity, good looks, a beautiful girlfriend, and a lock on a basketball scholarship that will land him at a top flight university. On the eve of the big game, his girlfriend announces that shes pregnant, and ODonnell gives up on his dreams in order to start a family. Seventeen years later- ODonnells (Matthew Perry) life is in a shambles. Hes working a dead end job, is despised by his kids, and his wife (Leslie Mann) is filling for divorce. If only he could be seventeen again Oh wait- he can, thanks to a mystical janitor whos obviously seen his share of Corey Feldman/ Corey Haim movies.

Review: 17 AGAIN is less a film, than a two hour ode to Zac Efrons dreaminess. The film starts with Efron, shirtless, sweaty and playing b-ball, before launching him into a dance routine to Young MCs Bust-a Move- which provoked lots of squeals of delight, and OMGs from the theater full of teenage girls that I saw this with.

Luckily, things do get better from here. While its still a pretty tame, cookie cutter teen flick, its practically a Gus Van Sant film compared to the mind numbing, Mickey Mouse Club theatrics of the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL franchise. In this film, Efron gets to PG-13 things up a bit, although its still a pretty safe follow up to his Disney flicks.

Overall, I somewhat enjoyed 17 AGAIN, mostly due to Thomas Lennon, fresh from his scene stealing turn in I LOVE YOU, MAN, whos on hand as Efron/ Perrys sci fi geek BFF. Every scene with Lennon is a keeper, and luckily, hes got a sizable role. Hes particularly funny when he poses as Efrons dad in order to chase after the hot high school principal (Melora Hardin from THE OFFICE). I also liked Leslie Mann, although shes somewhat wasted in a fairly straight-laced part, and does not get a chance to be as funny as shes been in some of her other films.

It was also nice seeing Matthew Perry back on the big screen, although I was disappointed by his limited screen time. I also had a hard time believing that Zac Efron & Matthew Perry were playing the same person, as they dont really resemble each other- either in looks or mannerisms.

The main reason I was curious to see this film is due its director Burr Steers, who helmed an awesome flick called IGBY GOES DOWN a couple of years ago. Watching this, I found it hard to believe that it was directed by the same man, but heck- a guys got to eat!

Still, 17 AGAIN isnt a bad film, although if youre not a massive Zac Efron fan (but really- who isnt?) you dont really have a reason to check this out. Overall though, this was a pretty painless way to spend ninety minutes, but I doubt this is going to be much of a crossover film for Efron, although it will surely please the teenage girl constituent. Its very much a middle of the road teen flick, and truthfully, despite having seen the film only a few hours ago, I barely remember anything about it, other than the fact that at times I was mildly amused. Still, this is a vast, vast improvement on how I felt about HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, which made me feel like the movie theater has transformed into my own personal hell for the duration of the film. This is a good first step out of Disneys shadow for Efron, but for his next film, he needs to do something radically different if he wants to have a career past the age of twenty five.

Grade: 5.5/10



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