Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

A friend of mine from the job took his daughter to see this movie ’17 Again’ because apparently his baby girl is a big ol’ weeping screaming Zac Efron fan, but he himself was surprised at how much he enjoyed the movie. This would be the reason that this man urged me to see the movie even though I had no desire to do so. This man also informed me that it looked like Zac Efron had been working out because he was looking kind of buff in this movie. Uh… okay. Now I must tell you my man started that statement with the ‘I’m not gay or anything but…’ precursor, and nine times out of ten that precursor grants one immunity… this would not be one of those times. So just to send a shout out to Zac Efron that the next time he’s in the Detroit area I know someplace he can stay free of charge. Well, almost free. Just looking out for my boy. Oh, and man-crush aside he was right, ‘17 Again’ was way better than I expected it to be.

Efron is Mike O’Donnell who in 1989 was the king of the high school campus and on the verge of fantastic things for when we first see him he’s about to play the basketball game of his life, one that will get him a college scholarship and launch him on his way to greatness. Then his pretty girlfriend Scarlet (Allison Miller) comes into the gym looking all distraught… dang if I don’t know that look, and before you can say ‘no glove no love’ Mike has voluntarily tossed that future aside to marry this girl he’s crazy in love with and take care of their new, albeit unexpected family.

Twenty years later Mike isn’t nearly as cute as he used to be and has grown up to look just like that guy on ‘Friends’ (Matthew Perry). His wife Scarlet (Leslie Mann) has kicked him out and his children Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) and Alex (Sterling Knight) want nothing to do with him. This would be because for the last twenty or so years Mike has blamed his lovely wife for ruining his life, and I gotta admit that’s a stream of negativity that would absolutely suck for two decades. Heck, I’ve only been

blaming my wife for ruining my life for the last fifteen years. What an asshole that dude is. So one day while reminiscing at the old high school about how great life used to be back in the day Mike runs into one of those weird old mystical type dudes that movies like this always have and through a series of unlikely and illogical circumstances Mike is seventeen one more time again.

Now the young Mike has to pretend to be bastard child of his best friend Ned (Thomas Lennon), a man with a geek level that has few peers, but one who has turned this geekiness into untold riches. Mike’s current task it to figure out why this amazing thing has happened and thus he is thrust back into high school to guide his misguided children, a son who is a bullied loser and a daughter who is sliding down the slippery slope that her mom traveled, that would be hooking up with bitter loser who will blame her for ruining his life. Not to mention a wife who is moving on to a life without him. Will Mike be able to fix any of these things? Uh… yeah? Sorry to spoil it for you.

While watching this movie Zac Efron reminded me a bit of my generation’s version of Zac Efron and that would be Rob Lowe with the exception being that Efron is a bit more talented than Mr. Lowe. And while I’m thinking it about make sure you examine those I.D’s before checking into a hotel with a couple of cutie pies Zac. Yes ‘17 Again’ is painfully predictable and doesn’t do anything fresh, unique or original that any of us over the age of twelve haven’t seen before, but we accept this short coming as a given nowadays. We just want to be entertained within the tight confines of any formulaic comedy and by golly if this movie doesn’t do just that. The majority of the credit for this has to go to Efron who was in practically every scene in this flick and thus its success or failure rests squarely on his shoulders. The kid dusted off all of his triple-threat tools for this one showing off his basketball skills, a definite flair for comedy, hitting us with a little dramatic action here and there and even blessing us with his dancing skills picked up from that High School Musical nonsense, though I informed my son it probably should be called Grad School Musical since those kids should’ve got out of High School a long time ago.

Director Burr Steers competently guides a movie that somehow manages to have some smart dialog strewn amidst its unavoidably predictable nature, the supporting cast led by Lt. Dangle was mostly amusing and like we said, the movie was funny.

So while we over here recognize that this movie breaks new ground in absolutely nothing and probably started out in life on a Warner Brothers basement lot as a simple vehicle to launch Zac Efron into leading man stardom, it is surprising that this still managed to be entertaining to someone other than girl tweens… and some guy I know who claimed to see this movie on the front that his daughter thinks that Zac Efron is cute. I see right through that ruse.

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