17 Again

17 Again movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy
Matthew Perry stars as a man who awakes to find he's 17-years-old all over again (in the form of Zac Efron), with a chance to change his life.
Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Michelle Trachtenberg
Director: Burr Steers
Running time: 1:42
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Editorial Review

Zac Efron is no Lindsay Lohan. That fact will come as a great relief to Efron's managers, who are no doubt crossing their fingers that their blue-eyed meal ticket, the beloved star of the "High School Musical" franchise, has no mug shots in his future. But it's too bad for "17 Again," Burr Steers's engaging but pedestrian comedy, that young Efron doesn't have a little bit more Lohan in him.

Efron is effortlessly diverting as an adult trapped in a teen's body in "17 Again." But, unlike Lohan -- who gave a rich performance as another adult trapped in a teen's body in the 2003 remake of "Freaky Friday" -- Efron has no edge. And although that edgelessness might prolong his career, it keeps "17 Again" from having anything surprising to say about teenage life in 2009.

"17 Again" starts in 1989 as high-school senior Mike O'Donnell (Efron) blows his chance at a basketball scholarship when he proposes to his pregnant girlfriend, Scarlett. Years later, Mike, now played by lumpen Matthew Perry, is bemoaning the life he could've had. He's passed over at work, and Scarlett (Leslie Mann) wants a divorce. When a mysterious man transforms Mike into his 17-year-old self, he re-enrolls at Hayden High School as Mark.

However, he finds that his children are having a very different high-school experience than they've been letting on. Brainy senior Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) is dating a jerk. Alex (engaging Sterling Knight) is being duct-taped to toilets by that same jerk (Hunter Parrish). Can their new friend Mark set them on the right path?

Efron, bless him, is not the kind of actor who puts a lot of work into figuring out how to act like a depressed, miserable 37-year-old guy.

Efron's teenage fans will give "17 Again" a hearty, squealing OMG. Their parents will appreciate the movie's brisk pace and nifty supporting cast (including Thomas Lennon, Margaret Cho and Jim Gaffigan) but will walk out of "17 Again" wishing that their daughters' unattainable love object, and the movie that's going to make him an even bigger star, was just a teensy bit more dangerous.

-- Dan Kois (April 17, 2009)

Contains language, sexual material and teen partying.