17 Again (12A)

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The Independent Culture

17 Again is another sharp, super-natural commentary on the trials and tribulations of school, although its mood is different. It opens with Matthew Perry as a disgruntled 37-year-old who's just split up with his wife, Leslie Mann. He wishes he could relive his glory days as a high-school basketball champ, and, one intervention by a magical janitor later, he wakes up as his 17-year-old self, Zac Efron, who does a serviceable job of imitating Perry's mannerisms. It's the kind of well-engineered high-concept comedy that was more common in the 1980s. The diligent plotting gives every character a satisfying storyline, and the smart dialogue doesn't talk down to its target audience. That target audience, of course, is made up of teenage fans of Efron, the High School Musical pin-up, but any accompanying thirtysomethings should enjoy it almost as much.

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