Picks and Pans Review: 17 Again

updated 04/27/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/27/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Matthew Perry | PG-13 |

bgwhite bgwhite   

Tween and teenage girls everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. Efron, their dreamboat from the High School Musical franchise, can easily carry a movie on his skinny shoulders. He shows a breezy self-assurance and considerable comic chops in 17 Again, a clumsily constructed comedy about a schlubby grown man, Mike O'Donnell (Perry), who suddenly finds himself a teenager again (played by Efron). While adult Mike messed up his life—not paying enough attention to his wife (Mann, always a delight) or offspring (Michelle Trachtenberg and Sterling Knight)—rejuvenated Mike soon realizes what a gem his estranged spouse is and just how much his kids need a hands-on dad. But is he stuck in his hot, young body forever?

If 17 Again sounds familiar, at least to older moviegoers, it is likely because a similar plot was used to better effect, and with greater emotional honesty, in 1986's Peggy Sue Got Married. Maybe every generation feels the need to go back to its future.

From Our Partners