WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Proving that everything “old” can be new again 17 Again opens in 1989 where star basketball player Mike O’Donnell turns his back on a college scholarship deciding instead to marry his girlfriend Scarlet when she reveals they are suddenly expecting a baby. Cut to 20 years later Mike’s marriage and job are floundering when he is physically transformed back into his 17-year-old self although his mind and sensibilities still remain that of a decidedly square thirtysomething dude. With the help of his nerdy-turned-billionaire best childhood buddy Ned he gets himself enrolled in the same school his own teenage kids now attend. Can he help them avert the same kinds of mistakes now that he (sorta) has a second chance to change?
WHO’S IN IT?
Zac Efron (High School Musical) shoots and scores in a breakout starring role. He shows he’s got the comic chops to believably pull off the way-out-there premise of being a 37-year-old trapped in a 17-year-old’s body. Matthew Perry (Friends) does a nice job bookending the movie as the older Mike but it’s Efron’s show all the way. Thomas Lennon follows up his hilarious supporting antics as the spurned man-date in I Love You Man with some equally amusing work as Mike’s friend Ned while Leslie Mann plays the estranged wife in style. As Mike’s kids who unknowingly become high school buds with their own father newcomer Sterling Knight and Michelle Trachtenberg get enough screen time to shine. Melora Hardin (The Office) is also quite funny as the school principal that lovelorn Ned keeps stalking.
Although the premise of the adult/kid switcheroo has been done to death director Burr Steers and writer Jason Filardi take it one step further a la It's a Wonderful Life or Damn Yankees by letting their main character regain his youth for the chance to see what his life would be like if he could live it another way. This fanciful premise makes this “teen” comedy one that adults will probably enjoy even more.
The filmmakers sometimes have a tendency to go over the top particularly in the "Star Wars fight sequence" when the newly transformed Mike confronts old friend Ned with the news and a laser battle erupts (!). Another scene where 17-year-old Mike is seduced by his own unwitting daughter may be funny but it veers a little too far into creepy territory.
DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
If you like 17 Again try renting 18 Again in which 81-year-old George Burns switches places with his grandson. Or how about Big Vice Versa Like Father Like Son or either version of Freaky Friday? And who said there are no original ideas in Hollywood ...
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
A no-brainer — the "Zac Pack" will be out in force on opening day.
As the fifth year at Hogwarts begins most of the wizardry world is having a hard time believing Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned further propagated by the Ministry of Magic who refuses to recognize anything evil is brewing and blames all the hullabaloo on Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). The Ministry even interferes with Hogwarts business by making Ministry employee Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor whose outwardly sweet demeanor hides a sadistic streak a mile wide. She thinks the children should only learn about the Dark Arts “theoretically” and tortures all those who disagree. But the Voldemort threat is a reality and Dumbledore has re-formed the Order of the Phoenix a group of witches and wizards that prepares to battle the Dark Lord. Harry is unfortunately being kept in the dark for his protection of course even as his connection to Voldemort grows stronger and he’s royally peeved at being ignored. Urged on by Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) he forms his own order of Hogwarts students called Dumbledore’s Army to teach them what defenses against the Dark Arts he has already learned. Oh yeah Harry also shares his first kiss but make no bones about it—love is the furthest thing on Harry’s mind when the crap hits the fan. War is imminent. Everyone steps up their game in Order of the Phoenix. Radcliffe Watson and Grint have shed their adolescent whininess and aw-shucks goofiness to give their characters the greatest depth so far. They are forced to grow up pretty quickly in Order with little time for any playfulness and the three actors handle the seriousness with aplomb. Of course both Radcliffe and Grint have already ventured out of the Potter world—Radcliffe shed more than just adolescence on stage in a production of Equus while Grint lost his virginity in the indie Driving Lessons--and their extra experience shows in Order. Also good are Matthew Lewis as the usually clumsy Neville Longbottom who shows his mettle in more ways than one and newcomer Evanna Lynch as the slightly off-kilter Luna Lovegood who proves to be a loyal member of Dumbledore’s Army. But the kids have to keep up with the talented adult cast especially Oscar-nominated Staunton (Vera Drake) as Umbridge. The veteran actress’ interpretation of one of J.K. Rowling’s nastiest characters so far in the Potter lore is spot-on down to the pink wool suits and irritating twitter “ahem” she uses when she wants your undivided attention. Helena Bonham Carter also makes an impression however over the top it is as the evil Voldemort follower Bellatrix Lestrange. Does she ever want to look pretty onscreen? Then there’s the laundry list of Brits whose time onscreen may be short but is nonetheless memorable including Alan Rickman as the sneering Prof. Snape; Gambon as the wise but flawed Dumbledore; Gary Oldman as the kindly Sirius Black Harry’s only real family; and of course Fiennes as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. His late-in-the-game appearance once again throws you for a loop. It stands to reason that at five movies in moviegoers would have a favorite Harry Potter flick by now. Those who love those Triwizard Tournament special effects might feel The Goblet of Fire was the best; or Prisoner of Azkaban for its time-bending action. Yet The Order of the Phoenix may be the one movie that speaks directly to the fans of the books. Without as much wide-eyed wonderment or wizardry flash the story is still chockfull of compelling details that are absolutely pivotal to the continuing Harry Potter saga. Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg (Peter Pan) and director David Yates (HBO’s The Girl in the Café) manage to wade through this volume of information and cut successfully to the chase with great effect. Yates who has signed on to do the sixth movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince even shows an affinity for action in the final dramatic confrontation between good witches and wizards and bad ones. But overall Order of the Phoenix may leave audiences not as well-versed in the novels a little itchy for some good old-fashioned wand-waving and Disney special effects. Thing is it’s just going to keep getting darker and darker for Harry and his crew. The days of happy fun playtime are over.
February 05, 2002 11:22am EST
On Monday, the Director's Guild of America announced their nominees for best director for a TV movie: the honorees are Billy Crystal for 61*, Robert Allan Ackerman for Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, Jon Avnet for Uprising, Frank Pierson for Conspiracy and Mark Rydell for James Dean. The DGA Awards will be presented March 9.
Meg Ryan will soon begin filming Against the Ropes--a story based on Jackie Kallen, the first female boxing manager--with Omar Epps co-starring and Charles Dutton directing, Variety reports. Kallen led a total of four middleweights to championships.
Kevin Spacey's production company Trigger Street Prods. will see their first documentary, Uncle Frank, on the big screen soon. The Berlin Intl. Film Festival, which opens Wednesday, will present the film--along with several others--as a special screening, Variety reports. Uncle Frank takes a look at old people's homes in New York.
Catherine Zeta-Jones will soon be the new face of Elizabeth Arden and apparently both parties are happy about the contract, People reports. A spokesperson for Arden said the beautiful 32-year-old Welsh actress "is the epitome of personal style." Zeta-Jones gushed, "I am proud to be part of the company."
Looks like more than Patriot fans walked away happy from Sunday's Super Bowl. Neither advertisers nor Fox can complain about the 86.8 million TV viewer average, the Los Angeles Times reports. The toughest competition was NBC's halftime Playboy Playmate episode of Fear Factor, which only held a mere 11.4 million viewers captive. Approximately 83 million watched U2's half-time tribute to the Sept. 11 victims.
Michael Jordan and his wife Juanita Jordan have announced they will "attempt a reconciliation," Reuters reports. After 12 years of marriage, Juanita cited irreconcilable differences as reason for the couple's split, but has now withdrawn her divorce petition.
Just because he's no longer the acting President of the United States, Bill Clinton still has fun playing politics. Saturday, Clinton attended a birthday party for a former staffer where he hobnobbed with senators, and Sunday, he hosted a Super Bowl party for guests ranging from Chris Tucker to Alec Baldwin, PageSix.com reports. Just in time for a nightcap, Mr. Clinton picked up a 10:30 p.m. cocktail at the Waldorf to raise money for his William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.
HBO is moving up its movie version of The Laramie Project, starring Janeane Garofalo and Steve Buscemi, to March 9 from March 16 because the latter date happens to coincide with NBC's premiere of The Matthew Shepard Story, starring Stockard Channing and Sam Waterston, the LA Times reports. What's the big deal? The two movies recount the same incident--the 1998 murder of gay college student Sam Shepard--and the networks don't want to compete for viewers.
Tune in to MTV on Valentine's Day if your heart beats true blue--red, white and blue, that is. Secretary of State Colin Powell will sit down with youths across the globe to answer questions on politics and current events. Powell will take questions from people at MTV locations around the world, and the program will be translated into multiple languages.
The WB is getting ready for their fall line-up, complete with comedies and dramas aplenty. And though about the same number of pilot shows will be produced this year as last by the WB, the focus is very clearly on "family and teen appeal," Variety reports.
Pay-per-view (PPV) movies that have had a theatrical release seem to be the most popular items on PPV these days, as revenues for released movies jumped 54% to $1.354 billion, Variety reports. Live events, such as boxing and wrestling, have fallen on hard times, due to lack of headliners (boxing) and market consolidation (wrestling).