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.