Nearly 20 years after high school, Mike O'Donnell (Matthew Perry), just fired, father of two teenagers who don't want anything to do with him, living with his severely-nerdish best friend (Thomas Lennon) and on the edge of divorce, feels like he's thrown his entire life away. It takes a little bit of magic in the vein of 13 Going On 30 and It's a Wonderful Life with a touch of Back to the Future, to get Mike to see that the biggest decision he ever made was the best decision he ever made.
I gotta say that I liked this movie. I'm honestly not too familiar with Zac Efron's work, but he does a really good job acting as if he was Matthew Perry at 17, with a little bit of Chandler Bing thrown in for good measure. I could easily believe that Perry played the scenes as 17 year-old Mike, then Efron stepped in and imitated him, it was that convincing. Sure, Efron is still in high school, playing basketball, and dancing every now and then, but he's really good at it and that's why he pulled off a great performance. Sometimes type-casting works.
Some of the best moments are when young-Mike interacts with his kids. Helping his son Alex (Sterling Knight) get on the basketball team and give him the courage to talk to the head cheerleader, and trying to get his daughter Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) to stop dating her douche-bag boyfriend (Hunter Parrish) and go to college. Naturally hilarity ensues when he meets their mom Scarlett (Leslie Mann) and sparks fly, and when Maggie thinks he's gay when he refuses her advances, but it all works out comfortably in the end. Young Mike's monologue in Health Class about choosing abstinence (should it surprise you that the health class scene happened to be one where they talk about sex and pass out condoms?) is surprisingly successful and even a little poignant.
By the way, there are a ton of Star Wars (Mike's best-friend Ned sleeps in a replica landspeeder in a Tatooine decorated bedroom) and Lord of the Rings (the school principal Ned tries to date knows that Gandalf was Gandalf the White in Two Towers, not Gandalf the Grey, plus she speaks elf) references through out the film.
I give 17 Again a solid B.