Film: 17 Again
Director: Burr Steers
Producers: Adam Shankman,
Writers: Jason Filardi
Starring: Zac Efron,
Runtime: 102 minutes
Imagine you were given the chance to go back and fix the mistakes of your youth. Now imagine this was the plotline of a movie that was already done before, but this time around it’s done sloppily. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well, it pretty much is. “17 Again,” the latest Zac Efron vehicle, is bound to drive pre-pubescent girls wild with a desire they don’t quite understand yet. For all others, it’s a slow, boring ride through familiar territory.
Mike O’Donnell’s (Perry and Efron) life is in shambles. He’s going through a divorce, he’s recently been passed over for a promotion at work and his kids want to nothing to do with him. Feeling low and wanting to remember the glory days of his teenage years, Mike makes a trip to his high school. There he runs into a custodian who offers him a chance to live his life over again. Through a bit of janitorial magic, Mike soon finds himself transformed into that young boy of 17 who had his whole life ahead of him. It’s now up to Mike and his old high school friend Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon) to set things right and obtain the life he always wanted.
Efron, hot off of “High School Musical” fame, doesn’t do much to prove he’s more than a one-trick pony. The first five minutes of the film will give every girl in the theater exactly what they’ve come there to see: Efron with his shirt off. Aside from that, he doesn’t have much to offer at all. Leslie Mann, who plays Mike’s wife, is capable and decent in her role. It’s not an attention-grabbing performance but she does her best considering the storyline.
The main problem with “17” is that it’s simply not funny. Nearly every joke and situation includes Mike trying to prove he’s a good husband or show the “hilarious” implications of being both a friend and father to his kids. While a laugh never escaped my mouth, Lennon and Melora Hardin, who plays the high school principal, provide enough chemistry and entertainment to keep one from dying of boredom, but their scenes together are hardly enough to carry the entire film.
Not only is “17” an obvious knock off of other reverse aging films, but it’s an uninspired one at that. I think I would have rather had a straight sequel to “Big” than such a blatant rip off. Apparently screenwriter Jason Filardi felt he could add a bit of heart to his film by having the main character realize that the reason he became 17 again was not only to change his own life, but to realize just how much he loves and needs his family.
While director Burr Steers doesn’t have a lot of films under his belt, his film and television credits would make one believe that he’s capable of telling a decent story. It would seem this film is a case of the paycheck justifying the making of a commercial Hollywood film, and the cinematography and pacing of the film is flat. Nothing stands out at all and it becomes obvious that Steers was just phoning it in.
“17” is really a waste of time and money. Save for one or two smile inducing scenes there is nothing that would warrant paying $7 for. Save yourself the time and trouble and rent “Big” instead.