Now available on Satellite TV Pay Per View Cinema, the same day its released on DVD, is the teen comedy 17 Again, starring heartthrob Zac Efron.
In the movie, Efron plays Mike O’Donell, a high school basketball star who seems to have everything a college scholarship, popularity, and a beautiful girlfriend. But all of that changes when his girlfriend Scarlett reveals that shes pregnant. Suddenly all of Mikes aspirations are dashed and we fast forward twenty years later. Mike (now played by Matthew Perry) and Scarlett (Leslie Mann) are separated, and Mike is living with his software genius nerd best friend Ned (Thomas Lennon). We also learn that Mikes relationship with his own teenaged children is nonexistent, and his job is at a standstill. Praying for a change after he is passed up for a promotion, Mike meets a mysterious janitor who transforms him back to his glory days and suddenly Mike is 17 (and played by Zac Efron) again.
Posing as a new student named Mark, Mike infiltrates his childrens school and learns things about them that he never knew. He also visits an unsuspecting Scarlett and rediscovers all the things that initially made him fall in love with her. Of course it should come as little surprise to anyone who watches movies that Mike will eventually learn some things about himself that will make him a better husband, a better father, and appreciate life as he never did before.
I saw this movie initially when it was released to theaters in April and I remember thinking Cute, but I could have waited for DVD. Its chock-full of the stereotypes that weve come to expect in these teen comedies (the jock bully, the trio of cheerleader temptresses, the final showdown at the basketball game with that one chance to make the winning basket), but it still works, mostly due to Efrons charms. Now that he is stepping outside of the Disney mold, Efron is proving himself to be much more than just a pretty face. He shows some surprising dramatic chops here (most notably during the speech he gives to a judge in a courtroom at the end) and I think he has a long career ahead of him as an actor in more serious roles. Leslie Mann is somewhat underused, but she is still good here, and I always appreciate seeing her in comedies (she also appeared in The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and this summer’s Funny People.)
I think Efron fans will be tempted to give this five stars before they even see it, but if other people give it a chance they will see there is a little more than meets the eye in Efrons talent. 17 Again had heart and it wasnt crass, and I think its a movie the whole family can enjoy. Sometimes a little sugary sweetness is actually kind of endearing.
By: Frank Bilotta