Zac Efron stars as a basketball star (what else?) in the likable "17 Again."
Zac Efron stars as a basketball star (what else?) in the likable "17 Again."

"17 Again" is a tween hit that scores with adults

I waded into "tween" territory Friday night as I took my seat for "17 Again," a body-swap movie in the same vein as "Freaky Friday" and the obscure, similarly titled Showtime movie starring Tia and Tamera Mowry.

With "High School Musical" alum and current teen fantasy Zac Efron -- referred to as "Zac-y-poo" by some -- playing the lead role, this movie was almost certain to satisfy the tweens.

Any parent or adult expecting the plot line to be tired and old should think again.

Mike O'Donnell (played by Matthew Perry) has pretty much given up on life. He didn't go to college, he's passed over for a promotion, his wife is divorcing him and his kids could care less. He's clinging to the memory of what was supposed to be his bright future right out of high school -- a basketball scholarship.

He's given the chance to relive those glory days as he's transformed from the mess of a man he's become to the athletic, popular 17-year-old he once was (played by Efron). He sets out to fix what went wrong in his life, with years of life experience as his guide. As he learns more about himself, his wife and his children, he realizes he doesn't regret it all.

"17 Again" is a sweet, witty and funny yet some times uncomfortable movie. It goes beyond simply recycling the familiar story by creating scenes and characters that grab you.

Many will groan as Efron can't seem to be cast in a movie where he doesn't don a basketball uniform. He even utters a line similar to one of Troy Bolton's mantras ("We're in this together" Mike tells his teammates). However, Efron plays the role of the young Mike well. He takes on the persona of a man in a boy's body and exudes maturity both humorously and seriously.

Despite Efron's assets, Thomas Lennon, who plays Mike's best friend Ned and "father" to the younger version, steals nearly every scene. Lennon, best known for his role on "Reno 911," takes the hilarious comedy he's known for and brings it to the geeky, awkward Ned. From sleeping in a bed shaped like a vehicle from "Star Wars" to his awesomely bad fashion, Lennon's Ned is just great.

The relationships between the younger Mike, his wife Scarlett (Leslie Mann) and his daughter Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) are awkward and uncomfortable at times. Sure, Scarlett is his wife, but he's 17 and the vibe gets a little too cougar-preys-on-under-aged boy. And there's a scene involving Maggie liking her dad in his young form that's just taboo and cringe-worthy.

Those flaws aside, if you're seeking a cute movie that has enough humor for all-ages "17 Again" is a good pick.

 

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