It's not often you go and see a film without high hopes and get pleasantly surprised. Too many times it's the other way around (thank you, Watchmen).
So I was glad to see 17 Again, a film I really only went to see for Matthew Perry's sarcastic schtick. This schtick, however, was not in evidence and if the film was relying on Perry for laughs it would have fallen flat. Thankfully it has the energetic and amusing Zac Efron to make up for any other shortcomings.
Efron plays the younger version of Mike O'Donnell, a high-school basketball star who back in 1989 decides to give up his hopes of a sports scholarship to stand by his pregnant girlfriend. In the present day, now played by Perry, Mike's life has been a bitter disaster as he spends his time thinking of what might have been. His wife is divorcing him, his kids hate him and his younger colleagues are being promoted over him.
A chance encounter with a mysterious janitor at his old school leads to Mike falling off a bridge and finding himself back in his younger body. Cue fun and games as he tries to negotiate life as a 35 year old man in a 17 year old's body, going back to high school and coming face to face with his rather unhappy kids.
I've never seen any of the High School Musical films; in fact the only previous part I'd seen Zac Efron in was Hairspray but he really impresses as Mike in this movie and it would be far less entertaining without him. He is ably supported by Leslie Mann as his soon-to-be ex-wife and the brilliant Thomas Lennon as his nerdy high school friend turned internet millionaire.
I dare you to see this heartwarming comedy flick and not laugh (a lot).