Written by Pollo Misterioso
I don’t fully understand the desire to return to high school. I actually enjoyed high school, but that doesn’t mean that I want to re-live being a teenager, it’s just so awkward. But films will continue to be made, all with the premise of returning to the past to change something. 17 Again is no different, although the modern twist on an old story doesn’t make it as enjoyable as I remember.
We begin in 1989 with Mike O’Donnell (the young version played by Zac Efron) shooting hoops, getting ready for the big game that could get him a scholarship to college. When he finds out that his high school girlfriend is pregnant, he walks out of the game and we flash-forward to the present-day Mike (Matthew Perry). Now his life is a mess—no job promotion, on the verge of a divorce and no relationship with his kids. Paying homage to It’s a Wonderful Life, Mike runs into an old janitor that magically transforms him into his 17-year-old self. It is then up to Mike to figure out what he needs to do to transform back.
The modern high school is shown as a breeding ground for disrespectful, sexually overactive teenagers. Not to say that this is not what all high schools are like, but 17 Again chooses not to show anything about going back to high school. Mike doesn’t want to relive high school to change his future; instead he realizes that this is the time to reconnect with his kids and to somehow win his wife back.
It is most humorous when young Mike interacts with his wife (Leslie Mann). She swears that he looks like her husband and the flirtation that plays out is almost uncomfortable but it works. Also, for those Zac Efron fans out there, he even dances and plays basketball in the film. I don’t know if he will ever grow out of this High School Musical role.