Published on April 29th, 2009 | by Sinead Keogh8
Freaky Big Going On Thirty
In another life, when cinema AND a McDonalds were too extravagant for the student pocket, a friend of mine taught me the delicate art of getting takeaway food into the movies. The smell of chicken McNugget emanating from your coat and alerting staff to your scurrilous ways aside, there is a small sense of pride associated with being able to keep a large coke standing upright in your handbag while handing over your ticket for inspection and nipping down two flights of stairs to the screen. That other life being only a short six months ago, the last time we gave in to the McCinema craving was sometime before Christmas, and none of our party are proud to admit that the last time we did it, we found ourselves eating double cheeseburgers while watching Hunger.
Last night we McCinema’d out of necessity as we were running late to see 17 Again. About ten years too late, considering our ages. Twisty fries firmly ensconced in the drinks holders, we settled in to watch Zac Efron bore us to death (we don’t often set out to hurt ourselves for giggles, we had an eight-year-old in tow who was dying to see it). Rather, what followed, (and a bit late to be saying it as the movie is out a couple of weeks now), was a not altogether awful screening.
The idea of youthing-up and ageing-up, whether by parent body-swappage or suddenly becoming a younger or older version of yourself, has been done before in many forms including Big, Thirteen Going on Thirty and Freaky Friday. Nonetheless, 17 Again manages to come through a tired set-up and keep it interesting. Admittedly, as is the way with teen movies, the plot isn’t bursting with twists or bulging with sub-plot, so it’s difficult to break it down into easily reviewable chunks without giving the whole game away – but suffice to say for those who haven’t heard, Matthew Perry of Chandler Bing fame is unhappy with his adult life and via some hokey finds himself, you’ve guessed it….17 Again.
Undoubtedly, while it was required for the role, Perry looks tired in this movie. He’s not the youthful Chandler we know and love. Instead, there’s a surprising amount of movie-carrying on the shoulders of Zac Efron, who actually isn’t as unpleasant as grown-ups might imagine. Though he’s going to spend the rest of his life trying to outgrow his teenage dreamboat face, he did do a bang-up job of acting as if Matthew Perry was inside him (teeheehee) and was perfectly pleasant onscreen. Some of our party went so far as to say swoonsome, and certain reviewers, in post-cinematic glow, hastened to agree. Later it felt dirty, but we are clinging to the shred of acceptability provided by one of our number when the crunching-on-Zac began – “it’s okay, he’s 21, not 17.” Four years so much the better.
While there was some discussion among our group about whether Michelle Tractenberg is actually attractive, she proved serviceable (lolz) in the role of of Matthew/Zac’s daughter. In fact, there was quite a respectable showing from the supporting cast generally, and the geeks among us (God knows why I’m suggesting a subset when we’re all geek) will appreciate the impressive collection of game and movie geekery owned by Matthew/Zac’s best friend. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Zac Efron playing with a light sabre only to bump into a garda holding one at the checkpoint on the way home. “Guard, I am your father…” was very tempting altogether.
All in all not a bad showing, and certainly an acceptable watch if you’ve got kids demanding a cinema trip. Efron will appeal to the gals, but the boys won’t be disappointed with the cars and games either.