The plot element is nothing new, and we've seen enough of body swaps, or younger folks wishing they can't grow up fast enough, or older ones reminiscing the old days, wondering if a change in decisions then would have resulted in a different life, hopefully for the better, now. However, such formula makes for a good box office reason to continue production, especially when you get to cast the “It” person of the moment (think Jennnifer Garner with 13 Going on 30), hitting the new generation with a star from their cohort. So it's yet another Zac Efron vehicle for him to shine in, and he's actually quite good at it, outside of the High School Musical series, about time now.
While Efron's star is shining brightly, being able to marquee this film on his own with a relatively low key cast, if you're from my generation then you can't help but to notice how fickle fame can be, and how Matthew Perry, once an integral part of the Friends team, has faded away since the television series bowed out of the tube. He shares the same role of Mike O'Donnell with Efron, playing the older version who's a little grouchier, a tad fatter and was just hoping to relive his past glory days. As proverbial Fate would have it, his wishes are heard, confirmed, and granted.
Now most films in the same genre would find the character either doing things they've missed out on, or to make grave changes so that it would impact their personal lives for the better. What I enjoyed about this film was its conscious departure from such a formula after the transformation took place, with an emphasis more on the family rather than the self, that ultimately Mike still has to answer to his estranged wife Scarlett (Leslie Mann), and kids Alex (Sterling Knight) and Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg). Being his kids age again allows for some bonding at their level, with comedic doses coming from forgetting his secret identity and crossing the line in “nagging” mode, or seemingly trying to reinforce the notion of his preference for MILFs, and force his daughter's raging hormones off him (he's Zac Efron for crying out loud!)
More comedy comes courtesy of Mike's best friend and total nerd Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon), whose unlimited bankroll allows Mike to become the coolest kid on the block with some outrageous toys, and living in a house befitting a nerd king, being littered with collectibles, notably Star Wars. Fanboys will probably have a field day here with multiple instances of Lucas-worship, and especially with the subplot of Ned trying his very best to woo principal Jane Masterson (Melora Hardin) who finds it increasingly hard to stick to her mantra of not dating her student's parents.
17 Again is a surprisingly decent flick which has an excellent pop soundtrack to go along. And without a doubt it benefitted from the casting of Efron, who will ensure that his legion of female fans will continue to flock to the theatres in show of their support for their idol. They should collectively hope that he will mature with his pretty boy looks and not grow up to look like Chandler Bing (sorry Matt!)