How to Watch: “17 Again”

Step 1: Finally admit to yourself Zac Efron may just have the stuff to make it big. Do it. Do it NOW.

Step 2: Notice how the film jumps to life once tired, depressed, middle-aged Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry), shunned by his kids and getting a divorce from his wife (a very fetching Leslie Mann, doing the very best she can with the role), magically turns back into his 17-year-old self (Zac Efron) again for some sort of life lesson. A reverse Big, as it were.

Step 3: Pay no attention to the very contrived plot line. But you can enjoy Efron’s effortlessness at playing the affable young Mike, dealing with his teenage kids AS a teenager and falling for his wife all over again – cougar-ish as it may seem. Seriously, Efron really can woo a girl.

Step 4: Do pay attention to the hilarious performance by Reno 911‘s Thomas Lennon, as Mike’s former geeky high school friend, now a multi-millionaire software designer with a penchant for all things fantasy – from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings. He speaks fluent Elfish, too.

Step 5: Now watch High School Musical 3 again (or for the first time) and see how Efron stands out.

Level of difficulty in watching 17 Again: Moderate. You’ve really got to stretch that suspension of disbelief, but I’m telling ya, Efron has got the chops. He just has to stop playing basketball in all his movies.