There are those who say that the Hollywood machine (A) does nothing but grind out the same repetitive product, and (B) is as dumb as a box of screwdrivers. Well... they're half right. While 17 Again has been made at least 17 times before—whether they called it Big, 13 Going on 30, or Freaky Friday—at least one can rest easy in the knowledge that if Hollywood produces the same movie enough times, they'll eventually get it right. Not that they got it right with 17 Again... but at least they're in the ballpark.
Metrosexual teen hunk Zac Efron (from High School Musical, and your teen daughter's wet dreams) stars as the younger version of saggy loser Matthew Perry (from Friends, and no one's wet dreams). After Perry realizes he threw his life away at age 17 to father a kid with his high school sweetie, he's magically transformed into a teenage version of himself (Efron) via a really crappy CG whirlpool. At this point, Efron takes over the movie—setting out to put his older self's life back on track. (Don't get it? Re-watch Back to the Future.)
Once you begrudgingly accept that you've already seen this flick a billion times, you'll discover... well... okay, it's not terrible. And that's largely thanks to the casting director, who had the smarts to surround Efron with a funny, likeable cast. Especially impressive is Reno 911!'s Thomas Lennon, who plays Efron's grown-up, geeky best pal who yanks laughs out of every single scene.
And even Zac Efron—who, I'm sorry, really reminds me of Clay Aiken—does a passable job at mimicking Matthew Perry's idiosyncrasies, and ends up pulling off a fairly charming character... that is, when he's not reminding you of Clay Aiken. In addition, he spends most of the first scene of the movie with his shirt off—so as far as your teen daughter is concerned, that'll be worth the price of admission alone. And I have to admit: Clay Aiken or no, that kid's built like a brick shithouse! (See? What did I tell you? Hollywood is getting smarter.)