Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
Zac Efron (Mike O'Donnell—Teen)
Leslie Mann (Scarlett O'Donnell—Adult)
Thomas Lennon (Ned Gold)
Matthew Perry (Mike O'Donnell—Adult)
Tyler Steelman (Ned Gold—Teen)
Allison Miller (Scarlett—Teen)
Sterling Knight (Alex O'Donnell)
Michelle Trachtenberg (Maggie O'Donnell)
Jim Gaffigan (Coach Murphy)
Adam Gregory (Dom)
Hunter Parrish (Stan)
Mario Cassem (Samir)
Katerina Graham (Jaime)
Tiya Sircar (Samantha)
Melissa Ordway (Lauren)
Melora Hardin (Principal Jane Masterson)
Brian Doyle-Murray (Janitor)
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New Line Cinema, division of Warner Bros. Pictures
“Back to High School”
Mike O’Donnell feels like a loser. His wife (Leslie Mann) kicked him out of the house, his kids don’t care for him, and his boss overlooked him for a long overdue promotion. What makes Mike even more miserable? He knows his life could have been so much better if he had gone to college with a basketball scholarship, instead of marrying his pregnant girlfriend.
Now, twenty years later, he’s living with his best friend, Ned, as he goes through the divorce. Returning to the high school of his glory days, a janitor asks him if he wishes he could be 17 again, which Mike strongly does. That night he falls through a vortex and finds himself seventeen again. Considering the janitor a spirit guide, Mike soon realizes that his transformation is to help his kids who really need him.
While it begins rather weakly, the momentum eventually picks up into a funny, charming movie. Its success rested completely with Zac Efron in his first no-singing lead role. He excellently delivers a convincing performance of a father trapped in a teen’s body. The chemistry between him and Leslie Mann was also a success. Their scenes together were vital since they had to display a connection between the younger Mike and his wife.
While the movie does use some recycled devices, the movie is sweet all on its own. Often times movies with any kind of time travel have the secondary characters suffer from kind of amnesia when they never realize that it’s the same person running into them at different time periods. However, as soon as Scarlett sees the younger version of her husband, she immediately is drawn to him, pinching his face, and wanting to smell him to see if it is indeed Mike.
While offensive content should be expected in secular films, the way it’s portrayed and any redemptive qualities should always be considered before viewing. In “17 Again,” the movie does have its fair amount of offensive; however the majority is shown negatively. While at the same time, saving marriages and even waiting until marriage to have sex are shown positively.
There is a moderate amount of cursing, about 7 of the milder profanities are scattered throughout. The Lord’s name is also profaned occasionally throughout the film. As for the violence, there is some slapping and a lengthy fight between Ned and Mike when Ned doesn’t recognize his friend’s younger self.
There’s some low-cut attire as well as discussions about sex.
At the end of the film, there is a unmarried couple shown in bed together. If parents want to avoid this scene, simply leave as soon as it states “The End.” Mike’s daughter Maggie is always kissing her jerk of a boyfriend. Throughout the entire film, her boyfriend is obviously a sleaze who ultimately dumps her when she says no to sex. This would be an excellent time to discuss with teens of what a relationship should not look like.
My favorite scene in the movie was during the sexual education class. The teacher defies the abstinence policy by passing out condoms saying that seniors are very unlikely to remain abstinent. Mike makes an impassioned speech about waiting until you’re married. After the speech, some students even begin returning the condoms except for, of course, Maggie’s yucky boyfriend.
Mike inadvertently blamed his wife for his current life. He eventually realizes his decisions and his life themselves weren’t that bad; it was just his negative perception. True, he never did go to college. However, he had a beautiful, loving wife, two healthy kids, and a dedicated friend. Whenever something seemingly bad happens perhaps we should change our own perception and view those times as a training ground to become better soldiers for Christ. Whether it’s someone annoying at work or being stuck in a traffic jam, they can become learning experiences on how to righteously deal with annoyance and obstacles. The book of James is an amazing how-to book for Christians. In chapter 1:2-4, he wrote:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete and not lacking anything.”
While the film’s humorously enjoyable, I do not believe it’s suitable for younger children. The film’s perfectly rated, and perhaps only the older ones would truly benefit from the film’s themes of love, marriage, and even regret. I do recommend this film as long as time sometime is taken to discuss the film’s content afterward.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.