This morning, I kicked off my lazy week (or should I say normal week) with a movie called 17 Again, starring Zac Efron. I knew that Jimmy wouldn’t watch this one with me, and my own motives for watching it were probably questionable. I mean, we all have a guilty pleasure, right? Mine is cheesy entertainment. Be it reality TV, Disney Channel original movies, or just a good terrible romantic comedy.
17 again stars Zac Efron mainly, and also Leslie Mann, Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon. None of these people would I consider “bad” actors, but you know, the movie was middle-of-the-road and they probably are as well. Now, I mean, you’d be crazy if you though Zac Efron wasn’t a total cutie, but I’ve never really been one to swoon, but if you are, hey, 17 Again has that going for it. Basically, a father/husband who would rather relive his glory days than fix his life gets that chance when he suddenly becomes his high school self again. The movie tries to spend as much time with the young heartthrob as possible. Which makes the beginning and ending pretty flat. And the concept could be interesting, if it wasn’t all about the fact that the movie is meant to give Zac Efron all the screen time possible. In all, it’s ok, but looking at the cover for 90 minutes will probably give you the same idea.
Full-blown Review, Spoilers AheadSo, we start with, of course, Zac Efron, causing the entire high school to swoon with his mad skills at dancing and basketball. It’s 1989, and he’s being reviewed for a scholarship during this game, but just before the game starts, he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant. Because he’s such a beautiful soul (warning: that’s sarcastic), he walks off the basketball court and tells his girlfriend he’s ready to commit to her and the baby. Flash forward 20 years and he’s staying with his nerdy, but filthy rich best friend due to his recent separation with his wife (the girlfriend from before). There’s multiple references to the fact that he’s always regretted not going to college, being a basketball star, or just being successful. His wife and kids don’t really care for him, and his job just took a dive when he lost a promotion to a woman who had been there for two months, because (sarcastic again) that’s what happens in the corporate world!
Just when he’s sure that his life will never get better, a mysterious janitor makes some strange remarks, and somehow he jumps off of a bridge and becomes 17. Woohoo! The only person who knows is his best friend, following a silly fight with replica weapons from various nerd movies. He then comes up with the brilliant idea to, hello!, go back to high school, where his two kids are enrolled. Acting as his father, his best friend gets him signed up (shadily) and develops a serious crush on the principal.
The “comedy” here is just overly written awkwardness, and it’s not really appealing. It manifests with the best friend and principal, and when the now-17-year-old befriends his son and forgets his dire situation when he meets his wife. It pretty much continues as he realizes, first, that his son is being bullied and needs encouragement, second, that his daughter his dating the high school bully, and third, that he actually cares more about his family than himself. Which is frustrating, because basically the young and old Mike O’Donnell (main character) are actually two different people. There was perhaps a short (very, very short) period of time when the young acted like the old. Kinda dumb.
Well, he helps his kids better their lives by getting his son on the basketball team and warning his daughter about her boyfriend leading not only to their break-up but also to the ever-awkward and over-used scenario where the daughter is attracted, unknowingly, to her own father. Ew. Why?
Now, Mike was supposed to show up to the divorce hearing with his wife, and since he can’t actually show up, he’s agreeing to it by absence. But, wait! He’s had a change of heart! He can’t go through with this! So in a random spurt of creativity on the writers’ part, he reads a “letter” in his youthful form from his older self in court to try to get his wife to reconsider. And by god, it works!
I do have a strange liking for cheesy stuff, but this movie was a little off. It ends pretty much how it began, with him having a scout in the audience and walking off to talk to his wife, who suddenly realized he was actually her husband, and they reunite after he becomes his regular old self again (pun intended). But that’s how it it ends. No reconciliation with the kids, no further explanation of anything. Just a “hey, yeah, it’s over, go home.”
In conclusion, the only part I liked about this movie was when the principal and best friend found their common geek in each other. And I mean, Zac Efron is cute, but that doesn’t make a movie. Oh, and Jim Gaffigan was the basketball coach. Irony!