17 Again Review
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Here we go…again.

Filmmakers seem to love the idea of taking a character and putting him or her in a different body—an older body, a younger body, somebody else’s body—with comedic results. Some are humorous and heartwarming. Others are just plain disastrous. And, somewhere in the middle, there’s 17 Again.

Back when he was 17, Mike O’Donnell (Zac Efron) had his whole life ahead of him. Then, just before the big game—the one that would earn him a college scholarship—his girlfriend announced that she was pregnant. And, just like that, he gave it all up—the game, the scholarship, and his whole bright future—to get married and start a family.

For the last 20 years, Mike (Matthew Perry) has dreamed about the life he could have had. He could have been educated and successful and happy. Instead, he’s been passed up for another promotion, his kids hate him, and his wife, Scarlett (Leslie Mann), just threw him out.

But then Mike gets his do-over when he’s mysteriously transformed back into his 17-year-old self (Efron again). Determined to get it right this time, he races off to high school, where he finds that his teenage kids (Sterling Knight and Michelle Trachtenberg) might need more help than he does.

17 Again is Freaky Friday mixed with High School Musical (complete with Efron shooting hoops and dancing with the cheerleaders in the gym). It’s pretty much the same old changing-places story, just with different faces and a slightly different set-up. This time, the hero stays in the present, and he’s transformed into his old, younger self, which means that he ends up taking classes and hanging out with his own kids (ignoring the fact that his Georgetown-bound daughter must have been held back a couple of years in order to be in high school at, um, 19). That makes for some awkward situations—like when young hottie Mike preaches about abstinence in health class…or when he lectures his daughter’s slutty friends about self-respect…or when he’s caught slow-dancing with his soon-to-be ex. Sure, it’s all in good fun—but, sometimes, it just feels a bit creepy.

Fortunately, though, there’s Thomas Lennon, who plays Mike’s geeky high school pal, Ned. Once tortured and bullied as a kid, Ned’s still a geeky grown-up (with a house full of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings memorabilia), but he’s also filthy rich—and he has a huge crush on Mike’s new principal. Though he’s just a side character, he steals every scene he’s in—and he adds some fresh laughs to an otherwise stale story.

While 17 Again is far from original, it does at least offer a few genuine laughs. If you’re looking for something new and surprising, this definitely isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a cute, brainless comedy, you could do worse.

Blu-ray Review:
According to the packaging, the two-disc combo pack release of 17 Again (which includes a Blu-ray disc and a DVD/digital copy disc) is “Packed with Zac!” And that’s no exaggeration. After flipping through the special features, you’ll quickly learn that 17 Again is all about Zac Efron.

Extras on the Blu-ray disc include a blooper reel (featuring more Thomas Lennon wackiness and lots of Zac giggling), Zac’s Dance Flashback, a featurette that shows Zac’s rehearsals for a short dance sequence that didn’t make the final cut, and Zac Goes Back, a short making-of feature, in which everybody talks about Zac. There’s also Going Back to 17, in which the cast members discuss their own high school experience (and share some pictures). The disc also includes 13 deleted scenes, which feature a little more Ned and a whole lot more awkwardness between Zac and his teenage kids (but none of them are particularly noteworthy).

Finally, instead of a director’s commentary track, there’s the “Way Cool Tell-All Trivia Track,” which inserts all kinds of little trivia bubbles into the movie playback. It’s not quite as insightful as a commentary, but it’s not as intrusive, either. And it adds an interesting twist to the movie-watching experience—while teaching you plenty of useless (but intriguing) trivia about everything from Cap’n Crunch to Zac Efron’s eyes.

If you’re a fan of Zac Efron, you’ll love the 17 Again extras—because they really are “Packed with Zac.” For the rest of you, as is the case with the movie itself, there’s nothing particularly mind-blowing about the extras, but you might find them entertaining anyway.

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