Saturday, August 15, 2009

DVD Review: "17 Again" (***)

"17 Again" (PG-13)

Written by Jason Filardi. Directed by Burr Steers.
Starring Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, and Thomas Lennon.
Released by New Line Cinema.
Feature Running Time: 1 hr. 42 mins.
Rated PG-13 (for language, some sexual material and teen partying).

"17 Again" is a prime example of a film I thought I was going to hate, and ended up really liking. Even from the film's opening minutes, I thought it was going to be a miserable disaster. But some things started happening. The film became more than just an average go back to a different age movie. It has a heart and a soul, and those two things alone make this film special.

I became suprised at how funny the film was, but also how mature and intelligent it was. At first glance, it looks like a "High School Musical" rip-off, starring Zac Efron for all the girls to go nuts over. But it's not. It's more a film about good morals. What would you do if you could go back to being a high-schooler, but have all of the knowledge that you do in your 30's? That's one of the points to the film. But it's also a film about the importance of family, and being a responsible teenager.

I feel delighted that a film can finally show the positive aspects of abstinence, staying sober until you're 21, as well as the negative aspects of fighting, bullying, and underage sex. The film doesn't push messages in your face, but it does do a responsible job of enlightening the teenage crowd that the above mentioned things are good. Believe me, I have no problem with films that show underage drinking, even in a positive or happy way, "Superbad"'s main theme is about three 18 year old guys that want to get liquor and get laid on a night of their senior year of high-school, and that's one of my favorite films.

I guess I just felt so happy and relieved to see a somewhat familiar comedy do some somewhat unseen things in cinema. The film takes chances. Big ones. I can't say I completely hated or loved Zac Efron before seeing "17 Again", because I'm not really familiar with his work. Of course, like any other kid that went to school whenever the big "High School Musical" craze was going, I was forced to watch the disney hit. And like most of those poor souls, I can't remember a thing. But in "17 Again", Efron shows he has more than just a pretty face and a good singing voice. The boy, scratch that, guy can act. He shows great maturity in "17 Again", and I look forward to seeing him in more films down the road.

"17 Again" has its flaws. Its major one being believability. No, I didn't believe that no-one could tell that Mike (Efron) went to school back in the 1980's, and now he just magically shows up in the present time. No, I didn't believe the way the older Mike (Matthew Perry) was transformed into his 17 again self. These things prevent me from giving the film anything higher than three stars. But besides those flaws, I think "17 Again" is a very valuable film. It teaches valuable morals to a more mature, but still underage audience, and remains heartwarming and funny in the process.

I've been very impressed with Thomas Lennon's work lately. He's most known for his work on the TV show "Reno 911!", but lately he's done some of the funniest acting in movies. First this year in "I Love You, Man", and now in "17 Again" as Mike's nerdy best friend Ned Gold, Lennon has became one of my favorite comedic talents in Hollywood. He literally steals every scene he's in with "17 Again". I recommend "17 Again" to everybody, even though it does deal with much more mature themes. I think it's at least an appropriate film for families to watch together and discuss afterwards, because after all, the film is about the importance of family and the time they spend together.

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