As seniors in high school, Troy and Gabriella struggle with the idea of being separated from one another as college approaches. Along with the rest of the Wildcats, they stage a spring musical to address their experiences, hopes and fears about their future.
At 17 Mike O'Donnell is on top of the world: he's the star of his high school basketball team, is a shoo-in for a college scholarship, and is dating his soul-mate, Scarlet. But at what's supposed to be his big game where a college scout is checking him out, Scarlet reveals that she's pregnant. Mike decides to leave the game and asks Scarlet to marry him, which she does. During their marriage, Mike can only whine about the life he lost because he married her, so she throws him out. When he also loses his job, he returns to the only place he's happy at, his old high school. While looking at his high school photo, a janitor asks him if he wishes he could be 17 again and he says yes. One night while driving he sees the janitor on a bridge ready to jump, and goes after him. When he returns to his friend Ned's house, where he has been staying, he sees that he is 17 again. He decides to take this opportunity to get the life he lost. Written by
I'm starting to suspect that Hollywood no longer uses actual, human screenwriters to create their movies. After watching years of the same, recycled trash, I'm starting to think that they now use a screenplay-writing machine to do it.
This machine works very simply. A producer will enter the main character's name, one problem they are facing, and one 'gimmick' (an unusual plot twist often used as a selling point for the film), and hey presto! - out pops a completed, and entirely unoriginal screenplay. Such is the case for 17 Again.
Mike O'Donnell is a depressed suburban father (sounds familiar already, doesn't it?) whose wife is divorcing him, kids can't stand him, and who just got passed over for a promotion. As the movie progressed, it started to seem very, very familiar - a crippling combination of unoriginal jokes, stereotypical characters and recycled plot devices. My friends and I started to grin and sneeringly guess what was going to happen later in the film, and guess what: most of the time, we were right.
We've all seen this movie before - it's been pieced together from the discarded carcasses of films past, by a flock of vultures seemingly so unaccustomed to originality in film-making that they have been rendered unable to create any plot twist even slightly unexpected or interesting. And don't even get me started on Zac Efron's acting (or lack of such).
Two small good things. Out of the dozens of jokes thrown at us, a select few - maybe five - were genuinely hilarious. Other than that, though, the humor relied on the the faux-improvised, overly-awkward style of comedy popularized by Seth Rogen and co. It doesn't work here. The other highlight, of course, was Matthew Perry. He's the man, and an excellent comic actor, but his short on-screen time was not enough to salvage this unoriginal, unfunny, and worst of all boring attempt at light entertainment. Perhaps if the film had eliminated the dramatic aspects and stuck to being a comedy, it could have succeeded, but this is one movie I certainly would not want to see again.
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