New Line // 2009 // 102 Minutes // Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // August 17th, 2009
Who says you're only young once?
Zac Efron plays an adult trapped in the body of a teenager in Burr Steers' family comedy 17 Again (Blu-ray), a harmless and utterly forgettable film that boasts a decently paced plot but certainly doesn't add anything new to its genre. Luckily, it looks awesome in high-definition.
The story of 17 Again sounds familiar. Matthew Perry stars as Mike O'Donnell, a 37-year-old guy who hates his job, fails to connect with his two kids, and quickly finds himself on the verge of a divorce from his frustrated wife Scarlett (Leslie Mann). In other words, Mike's life sucks big time, and if he could travel back in time and do it all over again, he certainly would.
But wait! He actually can! After a mysterious incident on a bridge during a nasty thunderstorm causes him to slip into some kind of time warp, Mike magically goes back to being 17. Now, he's finally got the chance to set things right as he gets to relive his past and make the necessary changes that will guide him to the state of happiness he's been seeking for so long.
Diehard fans of the High School Musical star will certainly find it easy to appreciate 17 Again, because if the film succeeds at one thing, it's giving audiences more Zac Efron than they can handle. I would've personally preferred a decent story, but I guess that's how things work in Hollywood these days. There must be a lot of people out there just don't think it's strange that a grownup man has to travel back to his teenage years to get his life back in order, save his marriage, and educate his kids.
Anyway, if 37-year-old Mike were able to get control of his life, we clearly wouldn't have a movie, so I guess it doesn't make much sense to examine the film's plot in great detail. As you may have expected already, teenage Mike will quickly learn how to face his fears, stand up to his challenges, and find the necessary courage to skip the mistakes that got him into trouble in the first place. That's it for the moral aspect of the movie, and I believe it's best to leave it at that.
That said, 17 Again is not a complete disaster, and I admit the film has refreshing moments that caused even me to smile occasionally. Jason Filardi's script is often predictable and overall a tad too lightweight for my taste, but at least it's not boring. Efron's scenes with Thomas Lennon, who plays Mike's hilariously nerdy buddy Ned, are especially enjoyable to watch.
Up to this stage, Efron hasn't done that much besides singing and flirting with Vanessa Hudgens, but 17 Again clearly proves he's got more in store as an actor. His underdeveloped character makes it hard for him to deliver a genuinely authentic performance, but he does a decent enough job playing a 17-year-old stuck with the mind of an adult. Acting honors obviously go to funny guy Thomas Lennon (known for his role as Jim Dangle on Reno 911!), but I also enjoyed Leslie Mann in the role of Mike's wife.
Let's move on to the good stuff. So far I've been incredibly happy with New Line Cinema's Blu-ray releases, and this edition of 17 Again is no exception. The disc carries a superb 2.40:1 video transfer that boasts an excellent image quality throughout, meaning Zac Efron fans will definitely get to see their favorite star as sharp and clear as ever. The Dolby 5.1 TrueHD audio transfer delivers the goods as well, making this one a technically splendid Blu-ray experience.
Contrary to the standard edition of the film, this one's loaded with bonus material. "Zac Goes Back" is a decent 12-minute behind-the-scenes look during which members of the cast and crew talk about how the movie came into being and what it was like working with each other on the set. Also included is "Going Back to 17," a short featurette during which actors and producers briefly talk about their own high school times.
The special features on this disc also boast thirteen additional scenes totaling 16 minutes, one deleted scene featuring a dancing Zac Efron, and 3 minutes worth of mediocre outtakes. As far as the BD features are concerned, this edition comes with a "Tell-All Trivia Track," a collection of notes about the making of the movie that are displayed while you watch the film. Think of it as an interactive commentary. A second disc includes a digital copy of the film, which means you get to carry Zac around everywhere you go.
17 Again definitely doesn't belong into the category of this year's most disappointing films, but despite its more or less entertaining plot, the film just failed to capture my interest. Here's a concept that's been exploited too many times already, and I wish they would come up with more innovative ways to tell a story about a guy who embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Sticking him into the body of a 17-year-old doesn't cut it anymore.
After reviewing the evidence, I hereby order Hollywood to leave this genre of comedies alone for good. However, Zac Efron is free to go.
Review content copyright © 2009 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated
* Trivia Track
* Deleted Scenes
* Digital Copy
* Official Site