Starring:Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Matthew Perry, Thomas Lennon
Director: Burr Steers
Original Score: Rolfe Kent
Running Time:102 Mins.
Prior to seeing 17 Again you must understand one thing, you fall into the target audience only if you are a teenage girl pre-16 and adore a certain Mr. Efron. Example, witness the opening scene, a topless, toned up Mike O’ Connoll’s (Efron) shoots hoops all alone on a basketball court. This is as we are informed 1989…
Shoot forwards to the ‘present day’ and we have Matthew Perry, bloated and quite frankly as far from how Zac Efron will look in 18 years time as you could get, but thats the point you see, he decided to marry his pregnant teenage girlfriend rather than pursue his dream of being a pro basketball star. His kids don’t care for him, his wife has now left him and he has lost his job, lifes’ not so great for this guy who had a once rosy future. Then he meets a ‘magical janitor’ falls off a bridge on a typically rainy night to be transformed into…yes you guessed it, 17 year old…again!
So far so Big, and to sum up 17 Again you need only take a bit of Big and a whole lot of Back to the Future without the sci fi element, and just add in some of that Ephron charm/smugness depending on your view of his ‘talents’. While not a fan myself I did find myself enjoying it and finding him adept at the body swap humour, playing Dad as a tennager, regardless of the actor there is comedy to be mined from the situation, at a push I would say he comes off as likeable for the first time thus far and is helped no end by best friend Thomas Lennon, as a rich uber-geek.
In fact the combination of Lennon’s nerdish humour and Ephron’s smug charm that keep 17 Again out of simple rehash ignonymy, channeling an young Michael J. Fox doesn’t hurt Efron and there could well be an even bigger and less annoying person waiting to break out above the idolisation of 13 year old girls. Ineveitably the film veers from mildly amusing to cringeworthy, but as O’ Connoll’s children befriend their ‘father’ unknowingly the laughs begin to flow a bit thicker with as many hits as misses, much humour (albeit in a creepy way!) is derived from seeing O’ Connoll’s daughter attempt to seduce him whilst he in turn tries to win back his wife, the mother of his supposed new best friend. Sounds complex…it really isn’t!
As you would expect everything is a little too happily ever after, and if it doesn’t quite have the cheese of a Disney film (thank god!) there are a fair share of ‘yuck’ moments, if Ephron wants to avoid being typecast and move away from this kind of lowbrow antertainment he needs to aim a tad higher as there may just be more than a smug grin in there waiting to get out.
17 Again is pleasantly amusing. Hardly a rave response, but Efron manages to offset his usual smug mugging against a glimmer of charm, helped no end by Thomas Lennon’s geeky input which is seemingly there to hold the interest of anyone who isnt a teenage girl.