17, Again (2009).

D: Burr Steers. DP: Tim Suhrstedt. W: Jason Filardi. Starring: Zac Efron/Leslie Mann/Matthew Perry/Thomas Lennon/Michelle Trachtenberg/Sterling Knight/Hunter Parish/Melora Hardin.

Let’s all hold hands now, smile, and be thankful that we never have to go back to high school again. Why are we smiling, you may ask? Well, if you have to ask then you didn’t have the majority high school experience like the rest of the country. The rest of the country who DESPISED high school. Which makes me wonder…why can’t go back to being 21? College time? Hmmm, but that’s of course, a different movie right? Sure.

17, again rehashes the old desire to be young again, and again, and again. Apparently, adults whose lives have, in the conventional sense, ‘failed,’ see high school as the antidote. I beg to differ. But sadly Matthew Perry’s Mike fully embraces his status in wallow-land and even, on a bad day, goes back to his former high school’s basketball court to hammer home the disappointments in his life. It’s nice to see Perry on screen again, although he isn’t given much to do here besides complain about his distracted kids (Trachtenber’s Maggie and Knight’s Alex), silly dead-end job, and disconnected marriage to his high-school sweetheart Scarlett (Mann). But, we have to love Perry for rolling with the unexplained fall into a black hole that somehow results in his transformation back into his young self, played by Efron. Regardless, of the charm in the film, 17, Again does not bring anything new to this random change of youth status, begging the question of the when the sci-fi version of this story will ever surface?

Don’t worry because until then you can watch Efron’s young Mike (pretending to be a Marc) smoothly saunter on screen with such relatable good looks that would make any woman get in line to go back to high school (upon the condition that Efron would be there). He does well embodying his older self with most of the mistakes coming from simple writing and odd narrative moments. Since when is the ‘new’ kid allowed to speak out of turn in class and essentially lecture his fellow students on more than one occasion? It makes for some cheesy moments that clearly attempt to voice older Mike’s (Perry) views, but ruin the rhythm of the film. Yet despite some obvious catering to Efron’s skills (basketball especially), 17, Again, displays Efron’s developing talent to not only physically dazzle us, but also force us to care about his character.

Although Efron is the crux of the film, most of the humor comes from Thomas Lennon’s older version of Mike’s best friend Ted. Lennon’s Ted reminds us just how silly the film is, which is categorically necessary in sugar coating the creepy inappropriateness of some moments between Efron and Mann. More importantly, it distracts us from the truly disturbing moment between Efron and his college-bound daughter Maggie (Trachtenberg). See it for yourself, you’ll never forget the cringe you’ll make.

Of course, at the center of the film is not the thrist to be youthful again, but rather the thirst to live you’re own live and be happy. Essentially, wake up and smell the shit. And if anything, besides a few sighs at Erons’ baby blues, 17, Again reminds us to live for now because we can never go back, we can only change the future.

And I would say that now is a perfect time to swear that no one will ever make this movie again. Do we need to hold hands again?…Didn’t think so.

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