Zac Efron plays Mike O’Donnell, the once-college-bound athlete with promises of a “free ride” scholarship, who later thinks that he threw it all away to marry his pregnant girlfriend Scarlett. At the age of 17 his girlfriend tells him of her pregnancy right before the biggest game of his life. With the scouts watching and his girlfriend walking away, he walks off the court to chase after her and ask her to marry him.
Flash forward to middle-age, wherein Mike (now played by Michael Perry) has a nowhere job and does nothing but complain about his family life. His wife (Scarlett, played by Leslie Mann) throws him out and he is forced to move in with his wealthy software genius nerd and best friend Ned Freedman (Thomas Lennon). He walks to the high school to reminisce. There a mysterious janitor apparently casts a spell on him and he meets with an accident that transforms himself into his 17-year-old self. He is still, however, in his own time.
After he convinces Ned that he is himself, Ned enrolls him in the high school, thinking he is meant to live out the basketball-college-star-dream he was once on track for. However, Mike soon realizes that his true path is to help his own children, who are also presently enrolled in the same school. His daughter is dating a boy who is pressuring her to have sex, and his son is a talented basketball player who just needs a confidence boost to get himself on the team and make some friends. Mike is able to befriend his children in a way he would not have been able to in the state of their previous father-child relationship.
Meanwhile, Scarlett is starting to date, while forced to remember the good old days because of the haunting presence of this young man who looks exactly like her husband did when he was 17. Things escalate to the point of divorce proceedings before all is made right. The kids’ problems are solved, Scarlett and Mike fall back in love, and Mike is transformed back into his normal aged body – with no regrets.
This movie is a great conversation-starter for parents and kids. The messages are pro-life, pro-abstinence, and pro-marriage. I recommend this film for teens; and for pre-teens with parental guidance. It can also be used as part of an abstinence program in any youth program.
Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller
The Divine Gift of Motherhood