DVD Review: 17 Again [M]

Director : Burr Steers
Starring : Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Allison Miller, Tyler Steelman
Running Time : 102 minutes
DVD Release Date : Sometime in 2010

‘Who says you’re only young once’

Mike O’Donnell (Efron/Perry) is 17 years old, a star basketball player with a beautiful girlfriend Scarlet (Miller/Mann) and the world at his feet. On the very day college scouts are at one of his games, Scarlet tells him she is pregnant. In a moment of all consuming teenage passion (ironically, possibly the exact same emotion that got the young couple here in the first place) he promises to marry her.

In the next scene, Mike wakes as a late 30 something man, bunking down with his childhood friend, the now incredibly wealthy and quirkily juvenile businessman Ned Gold(Steelman/Lennon). Scarlet, now his wife has booted him out because she is tired of hearing him complain about what he has missed out on by being with her. Mike goes to his old high school to visit his kids and while there, meets a mysterious janitor who asks if he wishes he was 17 again. Naturally, he says yes.

17 again

Mike wakes as his 17 year old self and decides to right the wrongs in his life by living it again. Ned agrees to pose as Mike’s father and he is enrolled in high school. His first day he shows up bedazzled in tacky Ed Hardy attire, complete with sideways facing baseball cap. Ned takes him shopping and a silver sports car, white t-shirt, black jeans and a leather jacket later, Mike is once again the hot, cool kid.

17 year old Mike befriends his kids at school and realises his son is being bullied and his daughter is running a little bit wild. He sees this as a failure on his part as a parent and sets about sorting out their lives.

A chance meeting with his almost ex-wife is memorable because she is immediately drawn to her son’s ‘new friend Mark’ as he reminds her of her husband. Hmmmm I wonder why. The two strike up an awkward friendship with Scarlet confused about her attraction to this ‘boy’ and Mark/Mike trying to conceal the love that is rekindling for his wife. As Scarlet prepares for a date, she and Mark dance together and both get momentarily lost in the moment. Their son walks in confused and the moment is gone. Probably a good thing because it gets a little intense.

17 again

Mike has to deal with lustful teenage girls and angry high school jocks as he tries to sort out the lives and relationships of his kids. His daughter is about to throw away her future on her loser boyfriend and his son is awkward and continually bullied.

The sub plot in the movie is Ned’s amusingly geeky seduction of the High School Principal. His pursuit is relentless and when she finally agrees to go to dinner with him, we learn along with Ned that she is a secret geek herself. It is true love. Awwwwwww

This is a great fun movie. It appeals to young and old and everyone in between. It has it’s fun flirty moments but nothing to extreme. It didn’t and was never meant to set the world on fire. Perry is solid and Mann is perfect as the older but still very cute Scarlet. If the role of Scarlet was cast with anyone else, Mann’s scenes with Efron may have seemed creepy instead of wistful and loving as they ultimately played.

17 Again was simply a vehicle to cash in on the immense popularity of Zac Efron who, at the time, was riding high on his High School Musical fame. I suppose it was also to introduce him to more adult audiences and more adult roles. He did very well walking the line between teenager and young man quite nicely. He was still on the nerdy side but was certainly showing he was growing into his looks and maturing as both a person and an actor.

You can probably find 17 Again on the $9 shelves at your local department store. It’s definitely worth a second look.

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