17 Again

Run time: 102 minutes Directed by Burr Steers Starring: Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon and Matthew Perry. This light-hearted comedy about a man who has lost his way and tries to find it may seem like a lot of sugar at first but as the viewer finds out, there is definitely an underlying message to this film. Having said that, going into this film I was set to finally see Zac Efron in a role where he neither sings or dances… but within 5 minutes of the opening that thought was blown to smithereens.

 The plot of the movie was fairly good even though everyone should know where it is headed. Mike O’Donnell was the all-American in high school and was on track to win a full scholarship as a basketball player. Things changed for Mike when he received news from his girlfriend Scarlett. Mike chose that day to give it all up for a life with Scarlett, but after 18 years of marriage he and Scarlett are getting a divorce, his kids dislike him and he has no where to turn but to his childhood friend Ned. Mike is given a chance to go back to 17 again to fix what was broken. The problem is that he must find out what the correct path is. Should he get the scholarship and become a success, become friends with his children and help them find their own way or is there yet something else he needs to do?

 The film was entertaining. Burr Steers, an actor himself, was able to direct the cast into a very smooth running machine. No one seemed to have to stretch into their roles and they all were comfortable doing what they do, especially Zac Efron. Isn’t this the 4th movie where he plays a high school basketball star?? Leslie Mann played the confused but determined to move on with her life, wife well. Not over the top or underplayed but just right; allowing us to see her vulnerability but also the resolve to have better. None the less, she will always be the Hooters girl from Big Daddy to me. Thomas Lennon was absolutely the shining star of this film. While the character was written very well Thomas brought Ned to life with brilliant colors. Is it a compliment to say that someone plays a dork well? Well, here is is meant as a compliment. The back and forth between Thomas and Melora Hardin is laugh out loud funny. The only downside to the cast was Matthew Perry, and this may just be a personal opinion but he didn’t seem to fit as the adult Mike. I like Matthew Perry and think he is a good actor. In this film though, something just seemed didn’t seem right to me, like he was having a bad day and couldn’t get in the groove. Of course that was how the character was supposed to be so in that I guess he did a goo job. Again, it may be a personal opinion.

 The idea of going back to our childhood at some pivotal moment in time is important. We all can think of something in our lives that we wish we could do over. That’s where this film hits you. Are we shallow enough to want selfish things or are we deep enough to realize what’s really important in our lives? The bigger picture here is that the film forces you to look at this and take stock of your life, and does so in a non threatening, bubblegum sort of way. It sort of eases the pain of seeing where we have failed to put the important emphasis in our life. This is what film is really about; not so much entertainment but making us think.

I would and have recommended this film to others. It’s an enjoyable time looking back on high school life. Viewers will find several messages within the film and parents of pre-teens and teens will like the fact that a teen idol is seen promoting higher values than what we are used to seeing today. It is for the most part a family friendly movie, but it is PG-13 so there are a couple areas where the parents of younger children may get a little fidgety.

I give this film 3.5 stars. (I would have given it 4 stars if Zac Efron hadn’t danced)

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