Three out of five stars
Zac Efron is America’s ‘golden child’, the perfect heartthrob for the girls and a positive role model for youngsters. Disney made him a star through the High School Musical trilogy, but even he admits it’s time to move on onto meatier roles. Unfortunately for him, 17 Again can’t be classified as his starting point in this endeavour – but another fluffy ride never hurt anyone.
Produced by now-mentor Adam Shankman (director of Hairspray), 17 Again sees Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) miserable with his life, who gets to redeem himself through a time warp from an imaginary janitor that takes him back to being – wait for it – seventeen again, in the form of Efron, the basketballer/all-round popular guy. Ringing any bells? He takes the name of Mark Gold, with best friend Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon) playing dad as he tries to follow the correct path in his do-over. The film is basically a reverse on the bigger life-swap movies (Big, Suddenly 30), but done with enough charm to result in minimal cringe and a few good laughs.
Efron is now so familiar with his charm he could do it with his eyes shut, but he still seems to pull you in with ease. Part of that is because he’s done it all before, but he rarely overdoes it. For the most part it’s not cheesy, but that’s where best friend Ned comes in. As the centre of all the popular references (Lord of the Rings has an interesting impact), Lennon provides most of the laughs as the oddball geek trying to catch the attention of a special lady. Surprising, considering Leslie Mann is better equipped in that field. As Mike’s wife Scarlett she’s given a less comedic role than recent fare (think Knocked Up) but is still great on screen. The relationship between Scarlett and Mark comes across unfeasible, and seems to play off Efron’s charm rather than awkwardness – much like the film as a whole.
It’s conventional Hollywood fare with nothing extraordinary from director Burt Steers, a relative newcomer, but interestingly the film can stand as a metaphor for Efron’s fame. His speech on abstinence makes the girls swoon; he stands up for every ‘normal’ guy to the school bully and he helps out his friends (a bonus if it benefits him). A positive role model (as he is within the Hollywood community), the character of Mark is has maturity beyond his years as he teaches a younger generation about self-respect and what high school really represents. But really, most of us know this already, and the morals are better portrayed in smart comedy offerings such as Mean Girls.
17 Again doesn’t present anything we haven’t seen before, but is nonetheless a fun outing. Some great one-liners help its cause, as does Efron’s involvement. Because really, it’s The Zac Efron Show. If you’re not a fan, perhaps stay away.
The 'Secretary' Dishes on Zac
Zac Efron is 17 Again
Lorna Scott dishes on the actor and the boy she calls "cutie pie"
I recently sat down with 17 Again actress, Lorna Scott, and she gave me all the juicy details on what it's like to work and be friends with Zac Efron. Lorna plays the school secretary in the new film, which hits theaters on April 17th.
"Zac is grounded and as sweet as can be! All the cast and crew brought their children to the set and Zac would play with them in the hallway. Of course he signed many autographs and met everyone, but between takes I would catch him down on the ground with the kids playing games. Suddenly it would be time to do a scene and he'd instantly be in character, always prepared. He wasn't an actor trying to play older, he just seemed as if he was a 40 year-old man in a 17 year-old's body."
Girlfriend and fellow High School Musical star, Vanessa Hudgens, was on the set for visits and was just as cordial to the friends and family of the excited crew. Lorna says, "Talk about young love! Those two are just beautiful and then they are actually nice to everyone. Zac and Vanessa made sure they met all the kids and Vanessa smiled and continued talking to all the kids while Zac worked."
Lorna also stars in the new Bob Saget sitcom, Surviving Suburbia, which premiered Monday night on ABC and thanks to Zac, she now knows how to use her phone properly. "Zac actually taught me how to use the camera on my phone. We were on set and had some time, so he fixed it for me and I have photos on it now of us in our costumes. He really could not be a better person or actor!"
BBC Newsbeat: Zac Efron 'looking for challenge'
Zac Efron has revealed he's not likely to star in many musical films in the future.
Talking about his new movie 17 Again, the actor revealed that he was looking for new challenges instead.
"I had so much fun doing 17 Again and I would love to do some non-musicals," he told Newsbeat.
"I'll take every opportunity I can to stretch and to try new things and to grow as an actor and improve, that's what I'm looking for right now."
17 Again, which hits UK cinemas on Friday, stars Friends actor Matthew Perry as a middle-aged man taken back to age 17 to relive his life again - Efron stars as the younger version of his character.
The High School Musical star admits that although the idea has been used many times before, the film's characters and script put a new twist on it.
"I read the script and I saw that this character is pretty unique," he said.
"Also it represented an opportunity for me to play a character that was completely unrelatable to my life, he goes through quite a bit, he's got kids and a wife, things I never dreamed of."
Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens
Efron with his girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens last month
The film sees Efron's character slapped a number of times in one scene, something which the actor had to admit wasn't fun.
"Honestly, I thought there was a way to 'fake slap'," he explains.
"I was like, 'What's gonna happen? Do they make a slap sound and I just move my head really quick?'
"But there's no way - Tom [Lennon, co-star] came up to me and just told me, 'Sorry dude, we're just gonna go for it'. And I'm like, 'Well, of course you say that, you're on the easy end'.
"And then cut to fifty slaps later… you could see it in the movie, my face is bright red."
Although he wasn't acting alongside his girlfriend and High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens in 17 Again, Efron says they still had time together.
"She still hung out," he said. "It is nice to have your best friend on set with you everyday and that was one of the better parts of High School Musical, I think."
Efron's devoted fans follow him everywhere, something which the actor says he's grateful for.
"How can I complain about it?" he laughs. "It's an honour to have fans that are genuinely excited, that show their faces, that come out to support your films.
"I mean, I think that's pretty rare these days - I'm enjoying it, man, it's a good thing to have and it's probably fleeting."
New Line's Press Release on the Premiere
New Line Cinema Presents an Offspring Entertainment Production 17 AGAIN Tuesday, April 14th at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater
Red carpet arrivals at the Los Angeles premiere of 17 AGAIN Tuesday, April 14th, at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.
From the film: Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Michelle Trachtenberg, Thomas Lennon, Melora Hardin, Hunter Parrish, Allison Miller, Nicole Sullivan, Adam Gregory, Director Burr Steers, Writer Jason Filardi, Producers Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot.
Other celebrities include Corbin Bleu (“HSM 3”), Asher Book (“Fame”), Amanda Bynes, Roma Downey, Kristy Flores (“Fame”), Cheryl Hines, Josh Hutcherson, Paul Iacono (“Fame”), The Jonas Brothers, Bart Johnson, Daren Kagasoff (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Paul McGill (“Fame”), Aly & AJ, Kay Panabaker (“Fame”), Kherington Payne (“Fame”), Collins Pennie (“Fame”), Walter Perez (“Fame”), Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (“Fame”), Perrey Reeves (“Entourage”), Olesya Rulin (“HSM 3”), Brittany Snow, Brenda Song (“The Suite Life of Zach & Cody”), Kevin Tancharoen (“Fame”), Chris Warren, Jr. (“HSM 3”), Shailene Woodley (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”) and many more.
Tuesday, April 14th
Check-in 5:00 PM
Red carpet arrivals begin 6:00 PM
Screening begins 7:00 PM
6925 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Even more on FOD from People
Hey [sic] may be a big-screen star, but it's Zac Efron's Web video that has people talking this week.
The cast of his upcoming feature, 17 Again, teamed up with a few celebrity pals recently to shoot a wacky video short for Efron's funnyordie.com debut, set to air Wednesday.
Brody Jenner, Joel Madden, Queen Latifah, Justin Long, Nicole Richie, Vanessa Hudgens, Carmen Electra, Brittany Snow and Lance Bass all take part in a "pool party from hell," according to 17 Again producer Adam Shankman who co-directed the FOD video.
"We wanted to do something goofy including cast members, but it wasn't a direct promotion," Shankman tells PEOPLE of the digital short. "It's very, very silly. It's Zac Efron's nightmare pool party where Tom Lennon and Nicole Sullivan, who are also in 17 Again play his white trash uncle and aunt and come and just humiliate him in front of a hip, young Hollywood crowd and they offend literally everybody in sight."
Some highlights? "We have Brody Jenner talking about the AIG thing," he says, adding, "Queen Latifah is deejay trying to sell her scabies medicine."
Check back Wednesday for the clip and more behind-the-scenes scoop from Shankman!
And Twitter Reviews from the past few days