Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: New Line Cinema & Off Spring Entertainment
Blu-ray: Warner Home Video
Runtime: 102 min
Size: 50 GB
Case: Standard Blu-ray case w/ slipcover
Release date: August 11, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Video codec: VC-1 @ 28 Mbps
Dolby TrueHD English 5.1; Dolby Digital English 5.1, German
SDH English & Spanish
• Zac Goes Back: Meet the Star – in HD (12:32)
• Going Back to 17 – in HD (3:13)
• Zac's Dance Flashback – in HD (2:10)
• Breakin' Character Outtakes – in HD (3:24)
• 13 Additional Scenes – in SD (16:05)
• Way Cool Trivia Track
• Disc 2: DVD Combo + Digital Copy
• BD Live Features:
• Zac's Commentary
• Tom Lennon & Melora Hardin – Unfiltered: Two Improv
• Zac Attacks: Mike & Ned's Battle with Medieval & Sci-Fi
It happened that I watched this movie the day that the Net
was abuzz with the news of the death of John Hughes, so it
seemed fitting that I would re-enter the world of the
adolescent just now. Though for just this reason – the
inevitable comparison to Hughes – my expectations were low.
Add to this that the movie starred Zac Efron: Mr. White
Bread with Blue Eyes. The Blu-ray begins with a preview of
another movie with Zac, and so I stuck around for a bit.
What's this: a Thumbs Up from Roger Ebert: Best Movie About
the Theatre. Zac is Sensational. Really? And what is that
movie, you might well ask? It's called "Me and Orson Welles"
and it's directed by Richard Linklater. I shall say no more.
The movie opens 20 years ago at the big high school
basketball game, with the usual scouts looking for possible
candidates for their colleges. Mike O'Donnell (Zac) is the
favored superstar. Just before the starting whistle, he
spies his girlfriend in front of the stands and innocently
steps over to accept her laurels. We don't hear the words
that would change his life, but when Mike returns to the
field, he is immobilized and runs off to find her. Cut to 20
years later, Zac has devolved into Matthew Perry. Not a good
sign. His marriage to his high school sweetheart, Scarlett
(Leslie Mann), is unraveling and she is suing for divorce.
Their two kids, Alex (Sterling Knight) and Maggie (Michelle
Trachtenberg) are not at all happy with their father, who
has spent the past two decades blaming his wife for his
failed life. Returning to the scene of the crime on night,
he is approached by the high school janitor who, Freaky
Friday fashion, grants Mike's wish to go back and make the
right decisions – and, voila: Zac emerges from the primeval
ooze once again to the relentless squeals of teenage girls
in the audience and on screen.
Even though there is really only one way for this movie to
end, the journey is peppered with wit and attention to the
current teenage lifestyle – those few that aren't depressed
or whacked out on drugs. 17 Again may not have quite the
heart of a Sixteen Candles or a Breakfast Club, but it
stands for a well made and very entertaining soufflé. The
cool thing about this movie – and something not entirely
obvious from a summary - is that there are two parallel
plotlines, each involving a man in his thirties: one stuck
in a kid's body; the other stuck in the mindset of his 15
year old self. Both men have cut themselves off from women
and, in their own way, willy-nilly, try to make contact. So,
there a story for teens and loyal fans of the Zac and a
story for adults – something for those of us guys still
stuck in wish fulfillment and gals who do or do not put up
Generally, Zac Ephron is likeable and variably convincing as
a thirty-something guy. It seems to depend largely on who's
in the frame with him. He's most on target in his scenes
with his best friend, Ned, played by Tom Lennon and his
soon-to-be ex-wife. He's less fatherly in his scenes with
his daughter. Part of the discredit I think goes to
Michelle: There's an important scene between Zac and
Michelle that unravels simply because it should have been
shot with two cameras or in one take, and the cuts back and
forth are discontinuous and don't show off the actress at
Whatever you might think of Zac Ephron up to now, 17 Again
does represent a step forward in his maturity as an actor.
Be that as it may, the story, while familiarly plotted, is
aided and abetted by Lennon and Melora Hardin (as the school
principal whom Ned falls madly - precisely the right word in
this case - in love with.) They are hilarious and steal
every scene they're in – together and apart.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Once Zac is transported back to his 17-year old body the
image for the Blu-ray of 17 Again is rich with saturated
color, reinforcing the fairy tale mood of the comedy. The
picture is sharp, with useful blacks and scarcely any artifacts of concern. Edge enhancement, though not entirely
absent, is light.
Audio & Music:
The uncompressed Dolby TrueHD track is neat, clear and front
directed a good deal of the time (as expected for comedies).
It opens up nicely when called for: e,g. the thunderstorm
near the beginning of the movie, grandstanding during the
basketball games that places us in the middle of the game;
the vertiginous music and effects when Mike falls off the
bridge; party and club noises and music (very strong here);
and crispy dialogue.
We've seen this menu design before: where the special
features page seems to be an alternate menu universe, from
which you can navigate to other bonus features or a toolbar
at the bottom of the page where we find Languages, Scenes,
and BD-Live access.
Aside from the dozen or so Additional Scenes, which are in
widescreen SD, and for which there is, thankfully, a Play
All option, the remaining four featurettes include some
behind the scenes interviews and show off Zac's dancing
talents. The pop-up Trivia Track is full of bits of tid that
fans will want to know, if they don't already. There are
also some promising features on BD-Live which I didn't
I say: What's not to like here: a charming and sexy Zac for
the teens, the deliciously funny Tom & Melora, and an
engaging turn by Leslie Mann. The image is quite good in
Blu-ray, the audio better than acceptable, and the bonus
features will entertain the main target audience here.
August 15th, 2009