It’s time for my quarterly dose of purposefully watching a shit film (see January’s Bride Wars) in an effort to get into the mindset of the general public pleb in order to try and extend the audience catchment area of this site. Granted, calling everyone a pleb might have just hindered my plans, but let’s be honest – anyone who watches this shite on purpose probably can’t read anyway.
So, after successfully insulting everyone let’s get down to it. 17 Again is the offspring of Big and Freaky Friday, the lazy-bods in Disney having the brain wave of making the guy younger instead of older – genius! We await 17 going on 70, when Dame Judi Dench wakes up to find she’s now Miley Cirus. God that’d be a good film.
The main draw of this film is Zac Efron. This is the guy all the kids have been going on about, the star of the rampage-inducing High School Musical series, who is now reaching an age where it’s morally acceptable to like him for us older ‘kids’. People seem to love Zac because of his dreamlike eyes, perfect hair, cheeky charm and slender yet muscular frame. This is just what I’ve read, anyway. It’s easy to see why he’s popular, the lad carrying this film happily enough, with smart little replications of his older-self’s mannerisms (Matthew Perry, looking like a haggard crab in comparison to his younger star, and thus probably wanting to kill himself by the end of the shoot).
Zac seems almost too perfect, though, the product of some sort of Disney breeding programme which is spawning hundreds of mini-Zacs and Zacettes (the trailers showed us what to expect in the future – hundreds of mini-Zacs singing and dancing and smiling at you. For ever. And ever.) It’s slightly disconcerting, but also intriguing – will our Zac steer his career like DiCaprio, swapping pretty-boy for pretty-damn-amazing film choices? Or will he head the way of Britney, damaged and distorted by the press? Although let’s be honest – he’s a guy, so the press aren’t going to make fun of him being too fat or too thin, or wait around to get shots up his trousers (there’s an idea for them…)
Efron is in fact upstaged by nerdy adult best mate Ned (Thomas Lennon) who steals the majority of laughs, or “smirks” as they more often were. Some amusingly cringey and weird moments aside (young Zac + old wife, or more worryingly, young Zac + daughter) 17 Again is largely unremarkable but not wholly unpleasant, made bearable by the antics of Ned and Efron’s effortless charm. A few gratuitous slo-mo shots of him without a top on seem to sweeten the deal. With a good message for the kids (stop being such a whiney-pants about screwing up your life, and don’t have unprotected sex or you’ll turn into a whiney-pants who’s screwed up his life) this is reasonable, but sits below the superior original Big and the ultimately more fun 13 going on 30. It just about sneaks in to a CF0 on the strength of its cast. And because it didn’t have a song in it.