17 Again

DVD (2009)  Written by Jason Filardi / Directed by Burr Steers

Mann and Efron in “17 Again”   (image: New Line Cinema) 

A 37-year-old is thrust into the body of a 17-year-old. No, no, that’s not a description of the photo above — it’s the plot of 17 Again, one of my favourite movies from last year.  Many of you probably haven’t seen the movie because you think it’s for kids, but it’s not.  Nor is it a tale of cougar angst, or a lame vehicle for Disney-grown prettyboy Zac Efron.  17 Again is very much a story for adults (and older teens), and it’s so much fun from start to finish. If you can accept that Zac Efron is going to look like Chandler Bing in 20 years, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Matthew Perry plays 37-year-old Mike O’Donnell. He works at a dead-end job, he’s just weeks away from finalizing his divorce, and his teenaged kids want nothing to do with him. Life is terrible, but with a little help from a mystical high-school janitor, Mike is given the chance to re-do the last 20 years of his life.  He arrives back in 1989 — not to the year, but to the body he inhabited during his senior year in high school. The grumpy and tired Matt Perry turns into the delish and energetic Zac Efron, and once again Mike O’Donnell has life by the tail. Within a day, he’s back as the star of the basketball team and just a scout visit away from a full college scholarship. Plus he can Hammer Dance like there’s no tomorrow. Mike soon realizes, however, that he’s been sent back to high school not to salvage a lost basketball career, but for a greater purpose, and he sets out to save his kids and his marriage to his high school sweetheart Scarlett (Leslie Mann).

This movie contains shades of everything from Big, Freaky Friday, Peggy Sue Got Married, and even  Back to the Future. It’s not really a new idea, but what sets this one apart is Efron’s performance. He channels a 37-year-old man with such authenticity and a lot of the film’s humour is built on this. Efron is a true multi-talent, and in 17 Again he proves he can act, do comedy, and probably also steal away some of our moms if he tried. There is a courtroom scene where he reads a letter to Scarlett, and it’s so well done and so sweet that we suspend all disbelief and feel for this lonely body-transformed man-child who wants so desperately to have a second chance with his wife.

Lovely moments like that aside, 17 Again is a great date movie and it’s both male and female friendly. I imagine there are a lot of you out there who would rather have Jack Bauer cut a cellphone memory card from your stomach than watch a movie starring one of the High School Musical cast members. I urge you not to dismiss this movie because you think you’re too good for Zac Efron (you’re not). If for no other reason, watch this movie for  Thomas Lennon, who plays Mike O’Donnell’s best friend and faux-father. He’s hilarious plus his house of sci-fi memorabilia will keep you drooling for the duration.

Sweet extras   A bit of trivia: at one point in the film, Thomas Lennon claims to be speaking “Elf”, implying it is Elvish, the language created by J.R.R. Tolkien. What Lennon is actually speaking is a form of Gaelic — Elvish is a registered trademark of the Tolkien family and you aren’t allowed to use it without special permission.

Good for who?  I recommend this for 14+ teens and adults. This is definitely not appropriate for little kids (and would probably make the baptist minister’s wife a little uncomfortable). You can find a detailed content description of 17 Again at Screenit.com, a site I highly recommend for parents with movie-loving kids.  I let my 12-year-old daughter watch 17 Again because I liked the movie’s message and because I knew she could handle the content — it was nothing I hadn’t already discussed with her for the most part.  

 

Loved this movie? Live this movie! Hammertime

Did MC Hammer ever stop to think that maybe we don’t WANT to touch this?  In case, however, you’ve got the godforsaken urge to bust a move after watching 17 Again, you can review the dance steps in the basketball court cheerleading scene near the beginning of the movie. In a special feature outtake included on the DVD, you can watch Zac Efron learn to Hammer Dance as well as do The Running Man, The Prep, and The Roger Rabbit (“What IS that?” he asks, after watching the choreographer demonstrate).

If you just can’t wait to rent your DVD before having your own ’80s-dance refresher, watch my favourite description of the Hammer Dance from Howcast.com and get started right now!  The video says Hammer pants are optional, but I think we both know they’re a necessity!

 

 

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5 Comments »

  1. Marie-Eve Lohman said

    I was wary of watching this with most of the movie having Zac Efron in the lead (I’m not much for the Disney sensations a la High School Musical or Jonas Brothers or Hannah Montana variety) but I do love Matthew Perry, especially in his more serious roles. That being said, I did actually enjoy the movie, and was glad to be proved wrong about Efron in this particular role.

    • Paula Jane said

      I’m so glad you liked it! (Although I’m sure you were a little disappointed that Matthew Perry wasn’t in the film very much) I think there are a lot of people who won’t watch the movie because of Mr. Efron, but I push it on people whenever I can. I think he’s terrific in it.

      Thank you for your comments, Marie-Eve, and I meant to say thank you in my other note to you for the nice things you said about my blog. Would you think less of me if I told you I heart those sweet Jonas Brothers?

  2. S.S.Sassy said

    Zac was terrific in the film, but I’ve got t say Thomas Lennon made the film for me. He was an absolute riot!
    I love that this goofy loser from high school became successful in life, and got the girl of his Elf dreams!

  3. Lisa said

    By the way, how did those teenagers manage to get in my closet and steal my hammer pants??? Worse than that, how did they manage to steal my moves??

  4. Lisa said

    I agree Paula. I thought Zac Efron was great in this movie! It really felt like he was an adult in a teenagers body (thank goodness we did not have to spend the movie watching Mathew Perry…). I really thought this would be a breakout adult type role for him. Surprised his career has been pretty quiet since this movie.

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