Mike O’Donnell becomes 17 again.
The year is 1989, and 17-year-old Mike O’Donnell (Zac Efron) is about ready to play his championship game in high school. Naturally, stakes are high, as this is his chance to get a sports scholarship and make his way to college. But just as he heads to the court, his girlfriend, Scarlet (Allison Miller) informs him that she’s pregnant. Mike runs out to play the game, only to stop shortly after, and make the decision to leave his hopes of being a basketball player behind to be with Scarlet. Now flash forward to 2009 where Mike (Matthew Perry) and Scarlet (Leslie Mann) are all grown up and recently separated. With two teenage kids, Alex (Sterling Knight) and Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) that resent him, a job that’s going nowhere, and a new residence with his lifelong best friend, Ned (Thomas Lennon), Mike laments choosing Scarlet in high school. He returns to his Alma Mater in hopes that reflecting on happy memories will help, but instead he runs across a mysterious janitor (Brian Doyle-Murray) who offers to make Mike “17 again”, making the title of the movie a complete spoiler.
Mike starts a fight with Stan as the other students record it on their cell phones.
The next day we found that the janitor keeps his word and Mike manages to prove to Ned that he’s the same guy and not just some teenager. A light bulb goes off in each of their heads, and as fast as his transformation from 37 to 17, Mike is enrolling in his own high school as Mark—Ned’s “son”. One of his first orders of business is to befriend his kids during which he discovers that Alex is bullied relentlessly by a student named Stan (Hunter Parrish)—the current captain of the basketball team—who also happens to be Maggie’s boyfriend. Naturally, Mark/Mike, isn’t really Stan’s biggest fan. This leads up to one of the best scenes in the film, during which Stan makes a sexual comment about Maggie and the condoms being handed out in sex-ed. Mike then gives a speech about how sex should be connected with love, that only ends up with Stan making more comments, and Mike starting a fight with him. Mike loses and ends up in the principal’s office where his “father”, Ned, is called to take him home.
Scarlet finds herself attracted to young Mike.
As the movie goes on, we see that Mike is finally able to spend time with his kids (though not in the traditional way, of course). He befriends them, gets to know them, and is able to help them through the hardships of high school. He helps Alex overcome Stan, and even manages to snag the girl he’d been pining over. Mike also helps Maggie through the heartbreak of her boyfriend dumping her because she didn’t want to sleep with him which leads to a borderline incest thing in which Maggie becomes attracted to him. During all this, Mike has been able to spend time with Scarlet, who he begins to fall in love with all over again. Forgetting he is still 17, he makes advances towards his wife that come off as quite inappropriate. So how does it end? Sorry, no spoilers here, but you do get one hint: it’s a happy one.
Mike puts some dance moves on Scarlet.
17 Again is romantic comedy that is just quirky enough so that it stands out from many films in the genre. With a leading man like Zac Efron, it’s pretty clear that this film is directed towards teenage girls and (very) young adults. But that doesn’t mean people out of that demographic can’t relate. This movie, though comedic, tackles the issues of a decaying marriage, and better yet, sends a message that instead of jumping to separation, it might be a good idea to reflect on why both parties fell for each other in the first place. On the flip side, a romantic comedy is still a romantic comedy, and 17 Again does have its share of clichés and a plotline that seems to be the reverse of Tom Hanks’ film, Big.
Mike contemplating things.
Mike and Scarlet dancing.
Zac Efron wears both black high top and optical white high top chucks in a number of scenes in the film, playing young Mike O’Donnell, who gets a chance to relive his life. The best chucks scene in the film is the dance sequence with Scarlet. Efron is a great dancer, and his moves with Leslie Mann look spectalular as he manuevers her around wearing a pair of brand new optical white high top chucks.
Mike sitting down by the patio door.
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