Boston Herald summed up: "While it is thoroughly ridiculous and makes sense only in fantasyland terms “17 Again” flies solely due to Efron’s winning ways." Also: Tom Lennon is amazing.
Boston Herald, Stephen Schaefer: full text
Opening against the somber investigative drama “State of Play” on April 17th is Zac Efron’s first solo star outing, “17 Again,” following his breakthrough turns in “Hairspray” and the three “High School Musicals.” While it is thoroughly ridiculous and makes sense only in fantasyland terms “17 Again” flies solely due to Efron’s winning ways.
The Burr Steers directed comedy has Matthew Perry revisiting the crucial year of his youth alongside his two children from a teenaged marriage in the guise of Efron. That makes it echo “Back to the Future” as he must reject his sexually provocative daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg) and bolster his bullied high school age son’s confidence (Sterling Knight). He must also try to control himself with his about to be divorced wife (winningly played with a glowing earthiness by Leslie Mann). The movie’s nearly stolen by Thomas Lennon as his wealthy, eccentric best buddy who pursues the high school principal (Melora Hardin). Lennon is in “I Love You, Man” and also stars in “Reno 911” which I’ve never seen. This I predict is a breakout turn for the slyly subversive wit.
As for Efron, “17 Again” is a perfect transition from the “High School Musical” to acting in that he is still in high school, still plays basketball and still gets to dance but the focus is on character and comedy. By the by – there’s a scene where Efron twirls a basketball as he taunts the school bully and it is so amazing, you’d think it was a digital effect. It’s not, said producer Adam Shankman, that’s all Zac.
Mirror UK Summed up: "I'm big enough to admit that 17 Again is a thoroughly charming and entertaining time-switch comedy - and it confirms Zac Efron as THE heartthrob for the teen generation."
Mirror UK: full text
Film of the week: 17 Again, four stars (out of 5 I think)
All the elements might sound familiar (mix a little It's A Wonderful Life with Big, add a dash of High School Musical and see what you get) but I'm big enough to admit that 17 Again is a thoroughly charming and entertaining time-switch comedy - and it confirms Zac Efron as THE heartthrob for the teen generation.
But while Efron looking cool and flexing his pecs will draw in the teen girl audience, the film is also funny and thoughtful enough to appeal to older audiences. After all, Friends star Matthew Perry is still funny and engaging, and Leslie Mann is a darling of the indie comedy scene (married to director Judd Apatow, and a star of Knocked Up).
The recent UK premiere was just the place to soak up the adoration young teens have for Zac Efron.
But my 12-year-old coreviewer Izzi not only loved Zac, but also adored the movie for its heart and compassion.
When adult Mike (Perry nicely mixing comedy with pathos) is magically transformed back into his teenage self, it offers up plenty of obvious comedy moments for the filmmakers... and, yes, they take advantage of them.
But they also use the Mike "adult-in-ateenager's-body" character to tackle not only how his life could have been but also to examine what kind of a father and husband he really has been.
This new teen-Mike acts and feels differently than the other kids, and even starts to influence some of the kids.
In one scene where condoms are being given out in class, the man within the 17-year-old boy-body gives a little homily to the class on the importance of love within sex... at which point he wins the hearts of all the girls.
Mike grows and learns. He befriends his own son (Sterling Knight) and helps him gain confidence, and also comes to realise his own daughter Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg, from Buffy The Vampire Slayer) isn't as innocent as he once thought.
As an oldish bloke I found 17 Again engaging and compassionate, containing a sweet message about second chances and innocence... and Izzi found it funny and peopled with believable characters and promised to recommend it wholeheartedly.
Urban Cinefile summed up: "Guaranteed to lift your spirits, make you laugh and charm your socks off, this body switch comedy is wild, wacky and wonderful. If the crazy situations and characters don't suck you in, charismatic Zac Efron will win you over." Also: Tom Lennon is amazing.
Urban Cinefile: full text
Being 17 has never been so enticing! Guaranteed to lift your spirits, make you laugh and charm your socks off, this body switch comedy is wild, wacky and wonderful. If the crazy situations and characters don't suck you in, charismatic Zac Efron will win you over, just as he did in Hairspray and High School Musical 3. From the moment we take that trampoline-like leap of faith when Matthew Perry's discontented thirty-something Mike turns into Efron's hot 17 year old, it's as though we are riding high on a lucky wishbone. Jason Filardi's script is darned clever, taking advantage of every situation and opportunity to make believable and hilarious chaos. Director Burr Steers keeps it real and we have genuine affection for Mike and the new problems he encounters a generation later, when he becomes 17 Again.
When we meet Perry's despondent, newly separated father-of-two, he has just moved in with his nerdy sci-fi obsessed geeky billionaire friend Ned (Tom Lennon), whose house is a playground of swords, lasers and comic books. The all-important scene in which Perry's Mike is transported into the body of his 17 year old self (Efron) is nicely handled (there's an encounter with a crusty old school janitor, a wish, a step in a puddle and confusion in the pouring rain) before we settle into his startling new reality in which he enrols in high-school, with his teenage kids now as his peers. The situations become crazier and crazier as Mike keeps a watchful eye on his insecure son Alex (Sterling Knight) and tries to untangle his love-struck daughter Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) from her ratbag boyfriend.
Lennon's self-professed dork Ned is the big scene stealer as he shamelessly woos Melora Hardin's stitched up School Principal Jane Masterson (the restaurant scene when they speak Elvish over red wine is inspired - and when Ned dons a cloak of invisibility so no-one can see him, the ridiculous and the heartfelt morph into one). The relationship between Efron's Mike and his ex-wife Scarlet (Leslie Mann, terrific) is the most important one to pull off, and pull it off they do. Needless to say, it is fraught with deliciously uncomfortable moments ('Do you usually dance with all your friends' moms?') but the tone is always right and when all the story threads finally and happily come together, we are well satisfied by this magical fantasy that dips, trips and flips into the wonderful world of 'What If?'
Moviehole summed up: This guy is suffering from, like, multiple personality disorder. He goes from "The strangest thing about 17 Again is the rather wishy-washy performance by singing/dancing Zac Efron," to "The performances are lively (regardless of whether you think he’s all that, Efron does do a good job; his scenes with Leslie Mann are particularly good)". Plus going to the gay thing seems kind of unprofessional (unless the movie were a satire about gay gymnasts, but w/e). Oh yeah, on top of all that, he fucks up its vs. it's. I do this occasionally when my pinkie gets tired, but I'm not a professional blogger/journalist. Clearly I would be defensive of Zac, but there seem to be a lot of logic problems in this dude's review.
Moviehole: full text
Three out of five stars
I recently discovered – via a fanatical ''X-Files'' fan – that some people like to make their own clip compilations of their favourite shows and movies. What they do is they cut and paste their favourite moments from say, ''Buffy, the Vampire Slayer'' or the aforementioned ''X-Files'', onto a DVD so that they no longer have to fast-forward through all the, er, boring bits to get to that scene they love so much. I guess it’s the DVD equivalent of the old mixed-tape we used to all make for ourselves in the 80s – ya know, all the good songs, without the fillers?
Zac Efron’s new film ''17 Again'' is a bit like one of those home-made clip-combo movies. Its as if the filmmakers have merely edited the good bits from other similarly-themed movies (take your pick – ''Big'', ''Like Father Like Son'', ''Freaky Friday'', ''Vice Versa'', ''Suddenly 30'') together to fill in 90 minutes. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before and if your mum hasn’t recently taken you Bra-shopping, chances are it’ll appeal to you about as much as, well, one of those faux video clips that you find on YouTube featuring footage from ''Twilight'' with LeAnne Rimes music playing over the top. Like an airport baggage terminal, it’ll either be your bag – or it won’t be.
In a nutshell: Matthew Perry plays a discontented newly-separated ad-man who gets a chance to live his life over again. Enter Efron as Perry at 17.
The strangest thing about ''17 Again'' is the rather wishy-washy performance by singing/dancing Zac Efron. The pint-sized ''High School Musical'' star is supposed to be this drop-dead-gorgeous, hard-to-resist, cooler-than-cool guy and yet… he sings, dances and carries on like a gay gymnast at a leotard convention. Do girls really drop at the feet of guys that are dressed top-to-toe in leather, like to dance with the cheerleaders before each basketball game, and have time to talk to you about your relationship problems? I very much doubt it. OK, so it was a hard pill to swallow when Patrick Dempsey’s Ronald Miller suddenly become ‘sheik’, and everyone’s woman’s dream, in ''Can’t Buy Me Love'' (1987) – but this capsule’s so big it’ll get stuck down your throat.
Having said that, and despite the fantastical elements of the film, it’s still entertaining – and not once will you check your watch. The plot moves along snappily, the performances are lively (regardless of whether you think he’s all that, Efron does do a good job; his scenes with Leslie Mann are particularly good), it’s got a good soundtrack (seemingly made up mostly of new artists), and despite having seen the film’s gimmick played out a bunch of times before (It may even be more ''Mr Destiny'' – the James Belushi/Linda Hamilton flick about a guy who gets a chance to do-over his life – than Big, though it definitely uses the Hanks’ movie as a springboard) still encompasses a little bit of a magic.