So what will Mike do now that he’s gotten a second chance at being 17? Well, aside from showing off those dribbling skills, it’s pretty easy to guess once Mike (Efron again) discovers that Alex is routinely duct-taped to the toilet by bullies and Maggie is planning on ditching her Georgetown college plans to shack up with the school’s requisite troublemaker instead.

In fact, the only moments that don’t fall prey to clichés or nods to Back to the Future with awkward run-ins with his daughter, who’s now a peer, and his suddenly much-older wife, don’t even involve Mike at all. Thankfully, Mike’s got a weirdo pal named Ned (Thomas Lennon) who prevents the movie from being a complete comedic bust. In an inspired bit of casting, Lennon shines as the geeky man-boy with an apartment full of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings memorabilia who happily poses as Mike’s father so he can enroll in high school. Quickly developing a mad crush on the school’s uptight principal (played perfectly by Melora Hardin from TV’s The Office), there’s nothing Ned won’t do to impress her, even if it’s speaking Elvish a la Lord of the Rings.

Unfortunately, the rest of the flick lacks that same verve—comedic or otherwise. While it gives Efron an opportunity to flex his muscles in a non-musical arena, the shoddy writing and plotting doesn’t do him many favors, meaning the jury is still out on whether he’ll successfully make the transition from teen heartthrob to leading man. But in the meantime, it provides the girls with yet another chance to swoon.
 
CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Social drinking depicted, including underage drinking at a party. Plus, there’s also a scene where Scarlett is inebriated and ends up hitting on the younger Mike, who is technically her husband.
  • Language/Profanity:  Occasional profanity including a couple of instances where the Lord’s name is exclaimed.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Teen pregnancy subject matter as the younger Mike's high school girlfriend informs him that she is pregnant. The older Mike works at an advertising firm that promotes Viagra-esque products. There’s also plenty of sex talk among the teens, including several girls who repeatedly hit on the younger Mike and brazenly claim to “be easy.” There’s also a scene in a high school sex ed class where the students are supposed to learn the proper way of using condoms, until the younger Mike, in full-on father mode, ultimately persuades the class not to have sex until you find someone you love—preferably when they’re married. After that, the sex conversation ceases, with several students ultimately praising Mike’s abstinence plea.
  • Violence:  Most is of a comedic nature, although there’s a couple of fight scenes between the younger Mike and the school bully.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.