17 Again

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
17 Again Movie Poster Image
So-so comedy will amuse young Efron fans more than parents.
  • PG-13
  • 2009
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 44 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 136 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


Fairly mild; some use of "ass," "bitch," "dick," "whore," "oh my God," and the like. One "s--t" in a song.


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14 and 16-year-old Written byrrks115 June 17, 2009
A lot of Innapropriate behavior, with innapropriate language,sexual content and more. it is more of an adult movie than a child movie.
Adult Written byTGPB March 12, 2021

Rated 12

Rated 12 for language and some sexual material
Kid, 11 years old September 28, 2020

17 again is a cute movie

17 again is a very cute entertaining rom com that kids and tweens will love this movie. But it has a little bit of sexy stuff language and teen partying. But I... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byPippiG April 30, 2021

What's the story?

Mike O'Donnell (Matthew Perry) is at a crossroads: Facing 40 and an impending divorce from the high school sweetheart (Leslie Mann) he married when they found out she was pregnant, he longs for another try at greatness. A mysterious janitor grants his wish, magically returning him to his 17-year-old self (though not sending him back in time) -- a teenager whose future seems bright with the promise of popularity, possibility, and a basketball scholarship. But, as Mike discovers, the past has a way of looming large, clouding the present and ruining the future. Is it too late to undo the damage?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what this movie teaches teens about the importance of their behavior and decisions, particularly when it comes to things like sex. Are those messages clear amid the comedy? Is it easier to hear those messages from Zac Efron than from parents?

  • Families can also talk about the ongoing popularity of movies about adults revisiting their younger years. Why is that kind of story so appealing?

  • How does this movie compare to others in that genre?

Movie details

  • In theaters: April 17, 2009
  • On DVD or streaming: August 11, 2009
  • Cast: Leslie Mann, Matthew Perry, Zac Efron
  • Director: Burr Steers
  • Studio: New Line
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Run time: 98 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: language, some sexual material and teen partying.
  • Last updated: March 14, 2020

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