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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

17 Again’ mediocre, yet good for family laughs

As I watched the movie theater flood with other women anticipating the newest Zac Efron movie, “17 Again,” I couldn’t help but wonder if it would meet everyone’s expectations. Even after seeing the movie, I am still asking myself that question.
“17 Again” revolves around Mike O’ Donnell, a man who gave up his high school dreams of being a collegiate basketball star when his girlfriend told him she was pregnant. Older Mike, played by Matthew Perry, gets a chance to do it all again when a suspicious janitor at his children’s school catches him trying to relive his glory days.
Reincarnated as a 17-year-old Efron, Mike – who assumes the alias Mark Gold – analyzes the reasons behind this new opportunity and realizes it is really the lives of his children and wife he is supposed to influence. He had been an inactive dad and an almost-divorced husband, and he comes to terms with the classic lesson of what is most important in life: rekindling relationships with his children and wife.
The script, while predictable, is nonetheless enjoyable. It is lighthearted and well-written, but not exactly destined for award nominations. The start of the movie seems to overwhelm itself in the cheesy factor with unsophisticated dialogue, but the storyline picks up as the plot thickens.
Toward the middle of the movie, the film begins to bear an odd resemblance to a random combination of “The Kid,” “Freaky Friday” and “The Mask.” The idea of meeting the younger you is, of course, nothing new to the film industry. The use of going through portals that change time and age forces further comparisons of this movie to others.
“17 Again” lacks originality, but the audience can find pleasure in respectable acting, a humorous script and a lesson that everyone could use a refresher course in.
When approaching the cast, I tried to separate Efron from the stereotype of his Disney past. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him the chance to prove himself a talented actor. Yet casting Efron as the lead still allows the audience to continuously compare the movie with his usual roles.
I was, however, impressed by his ability to attach to the father side of his character and the genuine feelings behind Mike’s love for his wife. Efron proves himself a respectable actor beyond the limitations of his “High School Musical” origins.
Giving credit to the movie for humor, Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911”) gives an entertaining performance as Ned, Mike’s nerdy best friend. His witty banter and dorky character gives the comic relief to a movie with an intentionally serious subtext.
The audience could see reality in his character, who lives vicariously through his comic books and “Lord of the Rings” movies. His new-found romance with the school principal, played by Melora Hardin (“The Office”), entertains the audience through their odd courtship and union based on their passion for Elf-like culture and language. Ned is, by far, the best character in the entire film.
The lacking aspect of this movie is found in the depth between Mike and his daughter. The writers prove truth in the bond formed between Mike and his son over bullying and basketball. But it is the daughter, Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg), who is legitimately questionable. The emotions behind her relationship dilemma seem scripted and lifeless. Her forced acting and lack of personality make the audience question the casting crew.
This movie is overall a mediocre and typical film. Despite the guilty pleasure aspect from the female perspective, there is nothing significantly identifiable about this movie versus any other family film in theaters. Still, “17 Again” is a good laugh and worth seeing.

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