Directed by Burr Steers, 17 Again is 102 minutes of PG-13 goodness for anyone who loves cheesy fairytale flicks or has a secret crush on Zac Efron. “Who says you’re only young once?” is the film’s tagline, and the answer to that question apparently lies within your high school janitor. Seriously.
Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) is fed up with life and the decisions he made, which consisted of the ever-original knocking up of his high school girlfriend and choosing to marry her over playing in the basketball game that would have won him a scholarship.
Reflecting on his past, he confides in his high school janitor, who he then “thinks” he sees jumping off a bridge. In the movie, the janitor vanishes into thin air, causing Perry’s character to fall into the river and transform into his 17 year-old self.
Now although the Los Angeles River is secretly the fountain of youth, and high school janitors are magical and mysterious creatures who know everything (Breakfast Club, hello!) I still was unimpressed at the way in which time-travel was depicted, causing a big plot-hole to blind me from any quality this film might have had.
The story of “what if?” has been done and redone a million times over. I think the only film in recent decades that attempted to answer this question originally was 2004’s The Butterfly Effect.
In addition, it’s clear that Hollywood simply wanted to give Zac Efron another role as teen heart-throb before he falls off the face of the earth or actually starts making good movies. Nothing against him, but look at the film’s ticket sales; Hollywood wins again.
For those who enjoy movies whose purpose is to entertain you, make you laugh and perhaps shed a tear during the standard happy ending scene, than this movie is perfect. It does have heart, and it’s something parents can watch with their kids without getting annoyed in the first five minutes.