Friday, April 17, 2009

Review - 17 Again

A separated 30-something father whose life isn't going the way he expected it pines over going back to high school and changing his life for the better. Unexpectedly, Mike O'Donnell wakes up to find himself 17 again, leaving him the opportunity to rewrite his life. Mike returns to high school in order to land the basketball scholarship he gave up his first time around, but also finds himself in the same school as his teenage kids. Mike becomes caught between his own desires and the future of his children leaving him to question his decisions all over again.

For a movie that I had little to no expectations in other than it being a generic attempt at a over used formula, "17 Again" was a surprisingly fun movie. As expected, the film is overtly generic and incredibly predictable, but none the less it is still amusing. More so, I was surprised by how much I laughed throughout the 102 minute film.

The first two acts of "17 Again" are pretty good. The film opens with a typical Matthew Perry whiny performance seen for too long on NBC's Friends and then it quickly turns to Zack Efron as the 17-year-old Mike O'Donnell. As much as I hate to say it, Efron is charming in the role. Efron does a good job of playing the awkward moments to the script. His best moments on screen come from his scenes shared with Thomas Lennon as Mike's longtime friend Ned. Lennon is a beacon of hilarity in "17 Again" and single-handedly makes the film worth a viewing. His character is perfect as the grown-up fanboy who now has everything he could have ever wanted as a kid, including a bed that is a replica of Luke Skywalker's X-34 land speeder. Lennon's dialogue is also absolutely side-splitting throughout. I never expected to laugh so hard in this film and it was a nice treat.

Unfortunately not everything was all hearts and flowers for "17 Again." The story is ridiculously predictable, which wasn't the slightest bit surprising, it was although enough to pull my focus too many times in the film. While the story is unbearably predictable it is equally sappy. The film tries desperately to have heart, but instead the ploy for the viewers emotions becomes nothing but sarcastic contempt for paper thin character and plot development. "17 Again" loses most of it steam by the third act and getting through the finale is pretty hard to sit through considering you have already seen this ending numerous times before.

Overall "17 Again" is a light-hearted comedy that doesn't try to be anything else. The film stays in a very traditional formula and doesn't stray too far from the boundaries except for Thomas Lennon's colorful dialogue. Zac Efron does a capable job of carrying the film, but in the end, it goes unnoticed next to Lennon's laugh-out-loud performance. This film is definately worth a rental or cable watch and should have younger kids laughing as well as the parents.