Hollywood's current infatuation with the 1980's continues with a fantasy comedy about a middle-aged man who magically gets a chance to relive his last year of high school. It features High School Musical heartthrob Zac Efron and Matthew Perry, former star of TV's Friends. Here's a look at 17 Again.
As he nears 40, Mike O'Donnell sees 'no upside' to his life. Younger, less experienced kids get the promotions he deserves at work. After almost 20 years together, the high school sweetheart that he married tells him she wants more from life and files for divorce. His teenaged kids want nothing to do with him. No wonder Mike finds himself back at his old high school, wistfully staring at the photo of his younger self back in the days when he was the campus king and star athlete …a reverie interrupted by a kindly old janitor.
Really, Mike? As the old saying goes, 'be careful what you wish for - it might come true.'
He wakes up the next morning and, though it is still 2009, middle-aged Mike is back in his teenaged body, 17 Again.
Over the objections of his best friend Ned, Mike realizes this is the opportunity he dreamed of.
Zac Efron stars as teenaged Mike in a change of pace from the singing-and-dancing High School Musical role that won him a legion of young fans.
"It was that chance to switch it up. It does take place in a high school setting, but it's not a very high school character and that's what I want to do more of," Ephron says.
Efron has the challenge of playing a teen with the mind and life experience of man 20 years older. Comic actor Matthew Perry co-stars as the grown-up Mike and Efron says they had fun synchronizing the two performances.
"I was able to see a couple of scenes that Matt had done, for sure," Ephron explains. "Most of what we did figuring out the character was just done in rehearsals. We had a couple of days we were able to just hang out and talk and figure out the key moments when, really, it was just Matthew's line that I was saying."
Of course, the movie can get audiences thinking about what they would like to do over again; and Matthew Perry says the cast mused about that too.
"I wish I could go back and just tell myself to 'chill out' a little bit more and not take everything so seriously, because everything is so serious when you are that age," Perry says.
It's a theme explored in movies before: Back to the Future did it in the 1980's, but It's A Wonderful Life used a similar device 60 years ago. Efron says playing it out in 17 Again convinced him the temptation is not worth it.
"You know, the number one question I've been asked for this movie is 'if you could go back, would you change anything? If you could be '17 Again' what would you do different? Would you go down this road?' [My answer is] Absolutely," he says. "This is the best job in the world. I'm having the time of my life. I wake up every day with a new challenge, whether it is filming, learning new skill sets, interviews …that kind of stuff. It's always fun, interesting and a challenge. I'm very happy with that and I'm very happy with my life right now."
17 Again features Michelle Trachtenberg and Sterling Knight as Mike's teenaged kids, whom he finds he can help out when he returns to high school. Leslie Mann is the wife who has grown tired of wishing their life had turned out differently; and comic actor Thomas Lennon plays Mike's nerdy (but wealthy) best friend. 17 Again is written by Jason Filardi and directed by Burr Steers.