Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


In 1989, Mike O'Donnell (Zac Efron) is the star on the high school basketball court with a promising future around the corner. But he decides to throw it all in, when his girlfriend Scarlet (Allison Miller) tells him she is expecting a baby. Now, almost 20 years later, Mike (Matthew Perry) has lost a promotion at work, cannot communicate with his teenage kids (Michelle Trachtenberg, Sterling Knight) and is about to get a divorce from Scarlet (Leslie Mann). Mike bunks down with his high school nerd-turned billionaire friend Ned (Thomas Lennon), but suddenly finds himself transformed to be 17 again.

Review by Louise Keller:
Being 17 has never been so enticing! Guaranteed to lift your spirits, make you laugh and charm your socks off, this body switch comedy is wild, wacky and wonderful. If the crazy situations and characters don't suck you in, charismatic Zac Efron will win you over, just as he did in Hairspray and High School Musical 3. From the moment we take that trampoline-like leap of faith when Matthew Perry's discontented thirty-something Mike turns into Efron's hot 17 year old, it's as though we are riding high on a lucky wishbone. Jason Filardi's script is darned clever, taking advantage of every situation and opportunity to make believable and hilarious chaos. Director Burr Steers keeps it real and we have genuine affection for Mike and the new problems he encounters a generation later, when he becomes 17 Again.

When we meet Perry's despondent, newly separated father-of-two, he has just moved in with his nerdy sci-fi obsessed geeky billionaire friend Ned (Tom Lennon), whose house is a playground of swords, lasers and comic books. The all-important scene in which Perry's Mike is transported into the body of his 17 year old self (Efron) is nicely handled (there's an encounter with a crusty old school janitor, a wish, a step in a puddle and confusion in the pouring rain) before we settle into his startling new reality in which he enrols in high-school, with his teenage kids now as his peers. The situations become crazier and crazier as Mike keeps a watchful eye on his insecure son Alex (Sterling Knight) and tries to untangle his love-struck daughter Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) from her ratbag boyfriend.

Lennon's self-professed dork Ned is the big scene stealer as he shamelessly woos Melora Hardin's stitched up School Principal Jane Masterson (the restaurant scene when they speak Elvish over red wine is inspired - and when Ned dons a cloak of invisibility so no-one can see him, the ridiculous and the heartfelt morph into one). The relationship between Efron's Mike and his ex-wife Scarlet (Leslie Mann, terrific) is the most important one to pull off, and pull it off they do. Needless to say, it is fraught with deliciously uncomfortable moments ('Do you usually dance with all your friends' moms?') but the tone is always right and when all the story threads finally and happily come together, we are well satisfied by this magical fantasy that dips, trips and flips into the wonderful world of 'What If?'

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2009)

CAST: Matthew Perry, Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Michelle Trachtenberg, Allison Miller, Tyler Steelman, Katerina Graham, Sterling Knight, Melora Hardin, Hunter Parrish, Melissa Ordway, Tiya Sircar

PRODUCER: Jennifer Gibgot, Adam Shankman

DIRECTOR: Burr Steers

SCRIPT: Jason Filardi


EDITOR: Padraic McKinley

MUSIC: Rolfe Kent


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes



Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020