In my continuing effort to understand the appeal of Zac Efron, I rented the movie “17 Again.” The movie centers on Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry), a man who made a life decision as a love-struck 17 year old and second guesses that decision to the present day. We meet Mike with his life in shambles. His career has taken a negative turn, his teenage children want nothing to do with him and his wife Scarlett (Leslie Mann) is divorcing him.
Stuck in a rut, the disillusioned Mike goes back to his old high school and gets lost in the pictures of his glory days. Through a curious string of events, Mike is transformed to his seventeen-year-old self (Zac Efron).
Since Mike feels he was given this opportunity to fulfill his basketball destiny, he decides to re-enroll in high school. By pretending to be the son of his best friend Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon), Mike O’Donnell quickly becomes Mark Gold. Everything is going according to plan until he realizes that his son he being bullied by the basketball team and his daughter is dating a jock jerk. His mission changes from his happiness to the happiness of his kids.
As a result of befriending his son, he finds himself spending a lot of time with his soon-to-be-ex-wife and realizes he stills loves her. There are many cringe-worthy scenes between a mid-30’s Scarlett and a seventeen-year-old Mark/Mike.
In the end, he finds himself at the exact same crossroads as when he was seventeen. He has a second chance to achieve his perfect life.
Aside from a few funny moments with Ned, this premise is well-worn territory. This film fairs well when compared to its many peers, but falls far short of the wonderful Tom Hanks starrer “Big.”
It’s painfully obvious that this movie’s sole purpose is to be a Zack Efron vehicle, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Although not meant for the likes of me, I can see the appeal for a Zac Efron fan. His character ranges from cool kid to dorky dad, and it works.
Bottom line: “17 Again” is no “Big,” but it’s pleasant enough and a perfect treat for a Zac Efron fan.