A flat, flabby retread of the "reliving your youth" genre of film, "17 Again" moves as if it's 71.
Matthew Perry and Zac Efron each play Mike O'Donnell, a former teen basketball star (Efron) who gives up his chance at a college scholarship when his girlfriend Scarlet (played as an adult by "Funny People" co-star Leslie Mann) announces she's pregnant.
Mike toils at a job he hates, being passed over for promotions by younger, bustier co-workers, and, thanks to his resentment toward his wife and children, is in the midst of a divorce, living with his "Lord of the Rings"-obsessed best friend (Thomas Lennon).
Enter a mysterious high school janitor (a white-bearded Brian Doyle-Murray) who throws Mike into some weird vortex thing, which makes him, as you may have deduced, age 17 again, giving him the potential chance to.
So he of course feels the need to make this rather stunning development a secret, enrolling in high school and becoming friends with his son and doing his best to keep his daughter's boyfriend's tongue out of her mouth.
The first issue is that Efron and Perry look nothing alike (in the film's first five minutes, my wife noted that Perry "looks Irish, and Zac Efron looks...Spanish?"), and no one notices that this new kid looks exactly like Mike (except his wife, who briefly notes such, then forgets about it). Even Mike's best friend since high school doesn't recognize him and engages in a pointless, unfunny cliched nerd-repelling-a-burglar-who-isn't scene that includes swords, fists, a staircase, and those expensive lightsaber replicas they sell at Toys R Us.
It's like the movie was written by Eddie Murphy's personal screenwriter.
I'm not even mentioning the creepier aspects of the film, which peaks toward the film's end when Mike's daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg, better than this material) decides she's in love with him and repeatedly tries to kiss him. It's pointless thematically to the film and is never properly resolved.
"17 Again" is the kind of movie that thinks not only wants us to believe a man who believes he's being robbed will let out a war cry and brandish a plastic lightsaber as a weapon, but it expects us to laugh at it as well, despite the fact that about 60 other films have employed a similar gag and drawn similar cricket applause.
Its premise is tired, its actors flummoxed, and its appeal is limited to 12-year-old girls and people emerging from atomic-bomb shelters.
DVD extras are thankfully non-existent, which likely means that the studio knew their movie was no good. Or maybe that a"special edition" will come out soon, light on the special.
Movie rating: 1 1/2 Yaps DVD extras rating: N/A