Let’s name some body switching movies. Big, 13 Going on 30, Freaking Friday old and new are the main ones that come to mind, that involve adults going back to their teenage selves or possessing the personality of a teenager in their adult form. Now 17 Again hits theatres, and it just scores enough to be recommended, but it surely does not score on originality.
Matthew Perry plays Mike O’Donnell, a ho-hum kind of guy who lives a life where just about nothing could go right. His marriage with high school sweetheart Scarlett (played as an adult by Leslie Mann) is crumbling and heading towards divorce, his kids have virtually fazed him out and he did not receive the promotion that he felt he deserved and was set to get at his job. For Mike, nothing can go smoothly, and nothing solves life problems like a trip to one’s high school. Mike walks the halls of his old school thinking about the simple days as a seventeen year old senior.
Mike encounters a mysterious janitor who informs him that he can relive the glory years as the star basketball player he once was. In the matter of moments, Mike is now seventeen again, and played by Zac Efron. As one could imagine, it would take some time to adjust to living as a seventeen year old again, and Mike has no clue how to go about doing it. He seeks help and guidance from his best friend Ned (Thomas Lennon), who as most would, don’t believe that the high school Mike is back.
Being a teenager is the least of Mike’s worries. If anything, he uses this as an opportunity to spend more time with his children because he and the socially awkward Ned decide he is going to relive his senior year. Ned now poses as Mike’s father and enrolls him in the high school they both graduated from.
As 17 Again began, I didn’t find myself enjoying much of it because it is a hackneyed premise that has been explored in many previous films, most famously by Tom Hanks in Big. But much to my most welcomed surprise, 17 Again become an entertaining little film. It is filmed with just enough charm, wit and humor to keep my focus for the last two acts of the film.
The finale is rightfully and expectedly corny, but somewhat heartfelt, and fits perfectly with the tone of the film, but the young performer Zac Efron is what makes 17 Again an enjoyable film. His charm keeps the film afloat and his scenes with Leslie Mann are funny, moving and equally touching.
17 Again just has enough for me to advise you to see it, but if you miss it in the theatres, just get it on DVD.
Director: Burr Steers
Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann
Rated: PG-13 (language, some sexual material and teen partying)
Rating (out of 10): 6\10