17 Again tells the story of Mike O'Donnell (Matthew Perry/Zac Efron) who, at the age of 37, finds himself regretting the choices he made when he was in High School. He is unhappy with the way his life has turned out and is in the middle of a divorce with his once beloved wife.
Wishing that he were back in high school again, Mike soon finds himself transformed back to his young self, however, it is still the present day, he has not gone back in time. What follows next is a predictable storyline that sets the stage for a series of events that makes Mike realize that he should have been happy with what he had.
17 is one of those typical body-switching comedies in the vein of Big, Vice Versa and Peggy Sue Got Married. The laughs come and go, and the movie is both well produced and directed (Burr Steers helmed the feature).
Matthew Perry is underutilized as the elder Mike; Leslie Mann is lovely as Mike's wife, but the real scene stealers are Mike's best friend Ned Gold, played by Thomas Lennon, and Principal Masterson played by Melora Hardin. Their interplay is fantastic; the scenes involving the romance between the two are absolutely hilarious and are worth the price of the ticket if you aren't into teen comedies.
Zac Efron begins his non-singing/dancing lead career here in this movie, and for starters, that is something fresh. Efron displays a beautiful, almost effeminate star quality that teens swoon over. He carries out his dialogue effectively, but you can still see that it will take a couple of more roles to push his star into real leading man power. One is reminded of Rob Lowe during his early roles in the '80s. At this point in his career, Efron gives off the sense that he is going to need a gang to elevate his star power, much like the Brat Pack before him, that he isn't going to be able to survive based upon his six pack alone.
In the end, 17 Again may not be a landmark movie by any measure, but it doesn't really pretend to be one. Even if it is just milking the box office cow by capitalizing on Zac Efron's celebrity, it has good morals to tell, and with the audience that it is targeting, that is something that is always good to see. Bring your kids to this one.