This is difficult for me to confess, but I'm starting to like Zac Efron ... although not in a crushworthy way, because at my age, that would be creepy. High School Musical 3 was not my thing, and he didn't make an impression on me in Hairspray, but I thought he was wonderfully energetic and fun in Me and Orson Welles when I saw Richard Linklater's film at SXSW last month. And now Efron is starring in 17 Again, a run-of-the-mill family comedy that would be tiresome if not for Efron and a few of the other cast members. Together, these actors kept me from digging through my purse continually for my phone so I could see how many minutes were left in the movie.
17 Again drags out every cliche from body-changing movies -- if you don't know them, check out Christopher Campbell's hilariously accurate list on SpoutBlog -- and unfortunately, doesn't try anything new or suspenseful. In this particular variation, Mike (Matthew Perry) is still reliving his high-school days, when he was the BMOC and a basketball star and everything was perfect, until he made a choice that has landed him with a dead-end job, two kids in high school who practically ignore him, and a wife (Leslie Mann) who's divorcing him because she's justifiably tired of his eternal whininess. So he wishes he were his teenage self again, and does so in front of a Clarence-esque janitor (Brian Doyle-Murray) -- and whammo! He's 17, but everyone else stayed the same age. Now he can go back to high school and help his kids and shoot lots of hoops and make it all better.