October 15, 2009

Theater Thursday

Today for Theater Thursday I'm going to review the recent film 17 Again.

I may have been the last person on the planet to see this movie (though I highly doubt it) but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Synopsis: Mike and Scarlett are high school sweethearts with bright futures ahead of them. In the middle of "the big game" that will determine Mike's college scholarship, Scarlett begrudgingly tells Mike that she is pregnant, and that he should move on without her, go to college and fulfill his destiny as a rising star. At first, he is tempted to do that, but ultimately decides to instead marry her and raise their family together. Flash forward 18 years later: Mike is now a 30-something underling at an ad agency constantly being passed for promotion by inexperienced 20-somethings with college degrees. Scarlett is divorcing him. His kids hate him. His life, in a word, stinks.

At which point in the movie I thought, great, that's the message we need to send to today's generation - manning up and taking responsibility for your choices will ruin your life. Thanks Hollywood.

But I judged too soon. In a flight of high fantasy, Mike is transformed into his 17-year-old self again and gets to see his family from a different perspective, learning that a lot of what he thought was true actually isn't.

This isn't a "family flick" in my opinion, and probably couldn't even really be appreciated by someone anywhere near the age of 17, because they just don't have that "other side of the mirror" experience to relate with. But there is a lot about the film to appreciate.

This was my first encounter with Zac Efron, teenaged Mike. I was impressed. He had to play a near-forty-year-old in a teenager's body, and he does it very well, displaying a level of maturity beyond his years. I never got into the HSM craze - and won't - but I wouldn't mind seeing something with him in it again.

The relationship between adult Scarlett and teenager Mike wasn't nearly as creepy as it could have been. The first time she sees teenaged Mike (calling himself "Mark") she's slightly under the influence thanks to a "friend" who took her out to celebrate her new single life. She climbs out of the car and sees the guy she fell in love with as a tenager standing before her. It was a moment that could have been awkward but was actually very funny. Of course, Mike is still in love with Scarlett, but she's supposed to be his best friend's mom, not his (almost) ex-wife. Leads to some interesting exchanges that, again, are more sweet than creepy.

There are, of course, several "fish out of water" scenes that have to happen to show the culture shock between adults and teenagers. Mike is enrolled in his daughter's grade at school and is in her biology class. And of course, because it's a movie, that day they are studying sex ed. The teacher stands up and says, "Today we are going to begin our study of sex education. And the official policy of this school is - Abstience," she says, swallowing her tongue. Mike looks relieved. Until she continues, "Of course, we all know abstience doesn't work, you're teenagers and you are going to do whatever you want regardless of what we tell you, so here's a box of condoms, take one and pass them around." Which, of course, horrifies Mike, and leads to (several) discussions about the merits of waiting and self-respect and self-worth, which was an upswing. But I have to say, if teachers are going to whine and complain that abstience education doesn't work, it might help if it wasn't taught like that. And for that matter, if "they're teenagers and will do whatever they want no matter what you tell them," why would you think passing out condoms will do any good? Gah....

But overall, it was a fun movie and it had a very sweet ending. I wasn't really expecting as much of the fantasy aspect as there was. I guess I thought it would be more like Big where the magical aspect wasn't as in-your-face. But it worked and I'd watch it again.


  1. I totally watched it for the first time the other night and loved it! Zac is so cute :)

  2. This movie looks really cute-- thanks for sharing!

    Sometimes I think that sex ed. doesn't work period because it's taught so wrong. I was actually never taught about sex/ reproductive health in jr. high/ high school at all. It seems like people are so afraid to talk about it, especially with their daughters, and that only makes it worse. I like the new "talk to your kids about sex" commercials though.

  3. Loved this movie! Too cute!

    Are you ready for tomorrow??? You guys doing anything fun for the game?

  4. I also was very impressed with this movie. First I thought. well, it's just another Zac Efron movie... but I loved loved loved it. Now I just have to convince my husband to see it with me again. Haha.

  5. GREAT review :-) When my kids get older, could you do this for every movie that they wnat to see, so I know if it is alright to take them ? ;)

  6. I saw this movie on the airplane when we flew from Germany to the states. It's kinda a mixed bag for me...there were cute parts, though. I did like Zac Efron - surprisingly :)


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