17 AGAIN: Zac Efron Holds Court
17 AGAIN (fantasy comedy)
Cast: Zac Efron, Leslie Mann (pictured), Thomas Lennon, Michelle Trachtenberg, Matthew Perry, Melora Hardin, Jim Gaffigan and Sterling Knight
Director: Burr Steers (from a script by Jason Filardi)
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: Unless you are a tween or teenage schoolgirl, you don't wanna watch 17 Again during these school holidays. Trust me. You are going to find the cineplex hall full of highly-excitable young girls and they are gonna scream, shriek and swoon whenever Zac Efron appears.
So unless you are also a fan of Efron, or a boyfriend of a girl who's a fan of Efron (in which case, you have my sympathy), you would wanna stay away from this movie until it is safe...
THE SKINNY: 17 Again, 18 Again! Freaky Friday, Big. They all have this freak-out transformation plot where the protags experience role reversals or get another chance to be young again. Here, 37-year-old Mike O'Donnell (Matthew Perry) is magically transformed to an age where he can look like Zac Efron, play basketball shirtless and generally make amends to his socially awkward son Alex (Sterling Knight) and hormone-driven daughter Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg).
Oh yes, Mike is on the verge of a bitter divorce from college sweetheart Scarlet (Allison Miller and later Leslie Mann) and somehow, as a teenage hunk, he manages to see his wife in a new rose-coloured light!
HITS & MISSES: Let's face it, this movie is all about heart-throb Efron - and director Burr Steers makes no bones about this. He has the Prince Charming from High School Musical holding court at basketball games, jiving with luscious cheerleaders and wooing and dancing with co-star Mann.
And if that's not enough, scripter Jason Filardi has also written in a 'resident jester' in the form of Thomas Lennon as Ned Gold, Mike's filthy-rich high school buddy who does all the moronic kid's stuff just so that Efron's character would look sane and respectable beside him. Lennon, of course, makes good use of this Golden opportunity to show off his comedic skills, supported by Melora Hardin as the school principal.
Okay, okay. 17 Again is also about second chances and paying more attention to the kids and blah, blah, blah.
THE LOWDOWN: Yup, a kind-of respectable 'coming of age' vehicle for Efron.