It’s a new year for streaming giant Netflix and they have just released a bunch of “new” old movies to their customers. One of the movies that just hit the airwaves is the fun Zac Efron comedy, 17 Again.
Many of you who know Zac Efron as an actor may think he got his start with Disney when, in fact, his career got going a few years prior to his High School Musical days. Efron actually grabbed his first role on the short-lived cult classic TV series Firefly. He bounced around early on finding time on shows like The Guardian, CSI: Miami, and NCIS before Disney snagged him for High School Musical. He would go on to play Troy Bolton in High School Musical 2 and 3 before he began to look past his Disney persona. That first venture would be one of his bigger early hits with 17 Again.
The movie starred Zac Efron as Mike O’Donnell, who was a big-time high school basketball star. He is preparing for a big game, one in which scouts would be attending, there to offer him a scholarship. But right before the game, his girlfriend tells him that she is pregnant. O’Donnell plays the first few minutes of the game, then walks off the court to find his girlfriend, thus walking out on a potential basketball career.
The movie jumps 20 years into the future and Matthew Perry is now an adult Mike O’Donnell. We see his life is immediately boring, going nowhere. He has two children from his high school girlfriend Scarlett, but she has filed for a divorce, which has forced Mike to live with his weird, though very wealthy, best friend Ned (played by a very funny Thomas Lennon of Reno 911 fame). After Mike gets passed over for a promotion he deserved, we also see that Mike’s kids – 17-year-old daughter Maggie and 16-year-old son Alex, want absolutely nothing to do with him. In a nutshell, life blows for Mike. But a strange meeting on a bridge with a janitor somehow transforms Mike into his 17-year-old self. Re-enter Zac Efron and here is where the movie takes off.
Zac Efron’s Mike first has to convince his buddy Ned who he is and when that happens, Ned feels Mike is being guided by a mystical spirit whose intentions are to move him along a better path in life. With a new lease on life, Mike enrolls in high school as Ned’s son and begins his pursuit of a basketball career, something he feels he missed out on. But as he begins his new life, he befriends his son, whom he sees constantly be bullied. He also sees that his daughter is dating a kid who has zero respect for her. Mike’s priorities begin to shift as he feels he needs to help his kids. Not only that, through Maggie and Alex, Mike begins to hang around their house and see his soon to be ex-wife Scarlet, opening his eyes even further to what his previous life was all about.
The movie is fun, yes, even for a Zac Efron movie, as it did give a glimpse into Efron’s comedic chops. It’s a genre that Efron has visited on more than one occasion as his career developed and one that he’s done quite well with.
When 17 Again released it was projected to bring in around $20 million based on Zac Efron’s popularity with High School Musical. It brought in over $23 million and was number one at the box office. The movie went on to earn over $136 million, making it a bonafide hit for Efron. He has since gone on to other comedies such as Baywatch, Neighbors, Dirty Grandpa, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. If you want to see Zac Efron in one of his early hit comedies, check out 17 Again on Netflix. It just may become a guilty pleasure.