Movie Review: 17 Again by uncdiversions
April 23, 2009, 9:36 pm
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All Zac Efron has ever been to me is a great capillary paradox. Seriously, can his hair really be permanently windswept?

More paradoxical yet than Efron’s hair is the fact that he can star in a rehash of the tired plot of magical transformation, reprising his high-school heartthrob typecast, in what is nevertheless a watchable movie.

Efron opens “17 Again” as Mike O’Donnell, star point-guard and alpha male of his high school. When he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant, Mike forgoes his life ambitions to be a loving dad. Fast-forward twenty years. O’Donnell, now played by Matthew Perry, is being divorced by his wife and loathed by his kids. As he longs for his glory days he is changed by a magical janitor into his 17 year-old self, in order to navigate the terrain of high-school all over again, and hopefully reconcile with his kids (now his peers) and his wife (now his cougar sex interest).

It would have been so simple for this movie to be a mere preposterous addendum to the Efron-in-high-school franchise. Amazingly, it’s not. “17 Again” takes the ethos of “High School Musical” and turns it inside out, reminding us that the high-school big fries are the shrimps of the adult world. Focusing on the fakeness of most corporate, scholastic and familial life, it satirizes preppy yuppies and hyper-sexed adolescents alike. As young (old?) Mike swims the narrow straits between Joseph Campbell’s hero-quest and Freud’s Electra complex, director Burr Steers spikes his serious, though sometimes reactionary moralizing and sentiment with dry irony.

Call it a Disney movie for adults who aren’t really grown up, or the anti-twennybopper film. Like its protagonist, “17 Again” winds up being infinitely more than it should have been.

– By Diversions Staff Writer Jonathan Pattishall


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