The Beacon’s Marissa Barkey attended this weekend’s top grossing film, the widely anticipated “17 Again” staring High School Musical heartthrob Zac Efron. Efron joins a cast of comedic veterans such as Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Matthew Perry and Michelle Trachtenberg for a comedic ride down memory lane. The main character, played by Perry is a father who finds himself facing some serious regrets of the choices he made when he was still just a teen in High School. After a peculiar encounter with a stranger, Perry transforms into the young 17-year old body of Efron and is forced to head back to High School and try to re-live the memories and correct some mistake’s.
I was skeptical about going to see this movie. A flick with a teenybopper favorite, Zac Efron as the starring role. All in all, “17 Again” isn’t going to blow away the audience by deconstructing genres or through the performances of the actors. However, it is very entertaining. The audience for this movie is not teenagers as much as it adults who like to contemplate going back to high school and correcting a major mistake.
To me, the film resembled a teen high school version of the popular syndicated sitcom “Friends,” because both have the same rather eccentric jokes and inappropriate situations which become more comfortable after a slight ruckus. The scenes of Efron trying to convince his teen kids to change are rather amusing as is the moment when he is caught romancing his older wife, as a teenager. But it is still a nice enough laugh full of traditional family values and the right tone -without overdoing the whole silly twist .
The movie starts out with the young Efron out on the basketball court. The director did his best to keep the main advertisement for the film (Efron) front and center. To the audience’s relief; he works it — man, does he work it — strutting across the screen like a teen idol, playing the star with an easy smile, fiendish good looks and a boyish charm, and even bared muscles: his character, Mike, is shooting hoops without a shirt in the very first shot of the movie. (Cue the shrieks.)
Given the story’s rather obnoxious implications — sex, meaning girls, can ruin your life — it’s no surprise that Scarlet (his high school girlfriend and future wife) doesn’t get the chance to revisit her past and tell her boyfriend to just put on a condom. Instead, the adult Mike pretty much falls into a computer-generated whirlpool trying to chase a stranger with a spell (Brian Doyle-Murray), who guides him on his journey. Suddenly, Mike is 17 again and too small for his business suit. He takes refuge with his best friend, Ned (a hilarious Thomas Lennon, nearly sprinting away with the movie, stealing a lot of the humor), a former high school dweeb turned early-21st-century ‘Master of the universe” with pricey child toys but who still sleeps in a “Star Wars” bed.
Burr Steels, the director, keeps the film moving at a fast pace so you don’t have to worry about details, like the unrealistic nature of the story. As any good director, he kept the main product (the devilishly good looking Efron) front and center of the whole film. Of course, he also understands the value of the comedic relief – Mr. Lennon, whose character is just in geek heaven.
With Efron at the helm of affairs, this keeps you glued to the screen.
“17 Again” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Girls are particularly cautioned.
Stars: 4 out of 5. (Just for humor)
Sappy Factor: 3 out of 10
Predictability Level: High
Tissue Usage: None
Shriek factor: Moderate
Visual Art: The computer generated whirl pool could use some work, but Efron with his shirt off made up for it.
Squirm Scale: 2 out of 10, for when he was romancing his older wife in his 17 year old body
Oscar Worthy: No
Theater Audience: About 90 candy munchers, mostly female, nobody left until the movie ended.
Blatant Product Placement: Apple products