A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Characters learn lessons about appreciating family and making smart decisions. But to get there, they navigate some tricky situations (for instance, a high school senior gets his girlfriend pregnant and gives up college to marry her and find a job, leaving him frustrated and resentful).
Positive Role Models
Some students clearly relish bullying others; some girls practically throw themselves at guys (one says a guy doesn't even have to remember her name as long as he sleeps with her), and vice versa. A teen boy binges on junk food.
Violence & Scariness
One scene features intense slapping. In another, a grown-up swings a hatchet and light saber against a teen, but the scene is played cartoonishly. Some bullying and brief fistfights.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
More references than actual sex/action. A teen girl makes out with her boyfriend frequently. In one scene, a teen girl tries to seduce a guy with animal role-play. Conversations sometimes include sexual innuendoes; one guy hoards condoms because he says he has "needs." Discussion of abstinence and why it works (or not) for teens. A teen boy kisses a woman old enough to be his mother. A teenage girl gets pregnant, and her high school boyfriend offers to marry her. Girls throw themselves at a guy, essentially offering sex. Adult couple show in bed together. A boy wearing nothing but a shield (nudity implied) walks out of a party.
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Fairly mild; some use of "ass," "bitch," "dick," "whore," "oh my God," and the like. One "s--t" in a song.
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Products & Purchases
Products featured in the movie include Captain Crunch, Pringles, Nutella, and Old Milwaukee Beer. Much is made of a character's American Express Black Card.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One scene shows teens drinking (some of them drunk) at a party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that they may want to think twice before letting young tween High School Musical fans see this PG-13 rated comedy, which is edgier than most of star Zac Efron's previous work. There's a scene of teens drinking at a party and a fair number of sexual references. It's generally more talk than action, but there's some making out, a teen girl gets pregnant, and one character hoards condoms. But curse words are few and fairly mild ("ass" and "bitch") and violence is at a minimum (of the two "fight" scenes, one is cartoonish, the other lukewarm). Parents may appreciate the fact that Efron's character implores his fellow teens to make so-called "smart" decisions about sexual activity and college. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Face it: We've seen this movie before. The storyline's so familiar (Big, anyone?) that it's practically its own genre -- though fine acting from the cast, especially Efron, does help 17 AGAIN rise a bit above the predictability. As the young Mike, Efron is indisputably watchable, emitting charisma from every pore. He's game, too, giving himself over to scenes that could have played tepidly and awkwardly -- Mike the teenager fending off the advances of his own daughter, who's not aware he's her dad, for example -- but generally don't. (Runner-up awards go to Mann and Thomas Lennon as older Mike's proudly nerdy friend Ned Gold.)
But good acting doesn't automatically make for a good movie, and, as directed by Burr Steers (who's helmed such deliciously subversive titles as Weeds, Big Love, and Igby Goes Down), 17 Again lacks edge. Yes, there are jokes about cougars and Lord of the Rings fanatics, but that's small potatoes. And though it's good to see Perry on the big screen again, he's woefully underused. Anyone over 12 or 13 is also likely to roll their eyes at the movie's High School Musical references (the opening, which includes glimpses of a sweat-drenched Efron shooting hoops, practically threatens a song-and-dance number). It's clearly a play for the HSM audience, but it ends up feeling like a cheap -- and unnecessary -- shot. Bottom line? Manage your expectations, and it may end up being worth the popcorn, especially for your teens.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.