Well, it was a little slow at the beginning, but come on: Zac Efron! Zefron! 'Nuff said.
Mike O'Donnell is the Big Man on Campus
. He's the star of the high school basketball team, his girlfriend is the hottest girl in school, and he's about to be offered a scholarship. But his life takes a turn for the worse after he discovers his girlfriend is pregnant.Flash Forward
twenty years, and his life hasn't improved
. His wife has kicked him out, his kids hate him, he's just been fired, and he's living with his geeky but much richer best friend. After going to his old school to pick up his kids, Mike is approached by a mysterious janitor whom he tells that he'd do anything to relive the Glory Days
. On his way home, Mike sees the same janitor about to jump off a bridge. Rushing to save him, he topples over the edge and lands in a whirlpool
When he crawls out and gets back to his friend's place, Mike discovers he's been turned into
his 17-year-old self. Now he has a chance to sneak into the lives of his family and get another chance at the life he wanted.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Aesop Amnesia: The girls who are impressed by the abstinence speech Mike gave to their class still try to seduce him later in the movie. Though some may have simply seen it as a challenge.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders:
- Averted. Neither Scarlet nor Maggie are cheerleaders despite the fact that they date the captains of the basketball team in their respective decades. The actual cheerleaders appear to be Mike's pals and/or background dancers.
- But then of course there's Alex who does want a cheerleader, and actually gets her.
- Almighty Janitor: With a title like 17 Again, it was inevitable.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other — Mike finally proving to Scarlet who he is and that everything he has done was to help his family.
- Book Ends: Mike is playing basketball, Scarlett walks into the room, he resumes playing basketball, she starts to leave, he abandons the ball and chases after her. The parallel plays out up until the dramatic twirl, when he strains his back and has to put her down.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Maggie.
- The Brainless Beauty: Most of the girls who chase after Mike literally have no respect for themselves.
- Closet Geek: The principal.
- Daddy's Girl: Subverted.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Happens quite often with Mike.
Mike: (absent-mindedly) You're an excellent dancer.
Scarlett: Excuse me?
Mike: (backtracking) Uh... I mean... you look like you can really move. (barely refrains from facepalming)
- Disproportionate Retribution: Let's see, how about Scarlett stealing Mike's personal belongings and running them through a wood chipper. Also a case of the Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male since it's usually also funny when a woman does something like that to a man (who's supposed to take it). But if the roles were reversed, Mike would be called out as a monster for doing the same thing to Scarlett's possessions.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Scarlett's first run in with 17-year-old Mike. She's so dumbstruck over how much he looks like a younger version of her husband that she ignores her friend's advice to stop acting like a fool. She eventually has to be physically stopped from going over to smell him. It helps that she's also quite drunk, having just returned from a "happy hour" with her friend.
- The Eighties: Mike was 17 in 1989.
- Fountain of Youth: The basic premise.
- Full Name Ultimatum: "Margaret Sarah O'Donnell!"
- Geeky Turn-On: After trying lavish schemes to win over the heart of Mike's new principal, Ned finally captures her heart when he speaks Elvish to her... and she replies in the same way.
- Genre Savvy: Ned. Particularly strong when he tries to figure out what triggered Mike's transformation.
Ned: Are you now, or have you ever been, a Norse god, vampire, or time-traveling cyborg?
Mike: You've known me since, what, first grade? Maybe I would have told you.
Ned: Vampire wouldn't tell... cyborg wouldn't know.
- Gilligan Cut: When Mike convinces Ned to pose as his dad and enroll him in high school. Used in both the movie and the trailer.
- High School Hustler: Mildly deconstructed with Mike.
- Jerk Jock: Maggie's boyfriend, Stan.
- Kissing Cousins: Technically. Although "Mark" and Maggie wouldn't actually be related as Ned and Mike are only friends, not siblings. The kids just call him Uncle Ned.
- Likes Older Women: How 17-year old Mike's tastes would appear to everyone else.
- Mistaken for Gay: Maggie concludes that (17-year-old) Mike is gay after he is obviously squicked by her advances.
- Mr. Fanservice: Shirtless Zac Efron in the opening
- Nerds Speak Klingon: The wealthy but nerdy Ned tries several lavish schemes to win over the heart of the principal, but all fail. He finally captures her heart when he speaks Elvish to her... and she replies in the same way.
- Overprotective Dad: Mike. Hell, one of his attempts to protect his daughter ends up on Youtube.
- Papa Wolf: Mike again. Don't make fun of his son while he's watching.
- Parental Incest: Mike's daughter falls for him briefly, but thankfully it goes no further than that.
- Parents as People: Justified by the fact Mike and Scarlett were both teenage parents, and unprepared to deal with raising kids. Mike needing to get over this is the whole point of the movie.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mike gives one to Stan the first time they talk, utterly annihilating him in front of the entire lunchroom. It begins with a Stealth Insult, followed by three cited Freudian Excuses for Stan's Jerk Jock personality (Armoured Closet Gay, Book Dumb and Compensating for Something).
- Sexy Soaked Shirt: When Mike returns home and looks in the mirror, he sees his seventeen-year-old self completely soaking wet... and wearing a complete suit.
- Shout-Out: Ned has a shoutout moment during the scene when he mistook the newly transformed Mike for a thief.
Mike: Ned, I'm telling you, I'm telling you: stop it. Stop it. Now.
*Picks up a lightsaber*
*Ignites his lightsaber*
- Two entire scenes are shout outs to classic movies:
- Back to the Future - when Mike wakes up after taking a punch from Stan in his daughter's bed and recounts the events so far as a horrible nightmare he had, only to realize it wasn't a dream and his daughter is hitting on him.
- It's a Wonderful Life - Mike is tricked into the magical whirlpool that turns his age back when he sees his "spirit guide" apparently committing suicide off the bridge.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Maggie gets the hots for 17-year-old Mike, whom she doesn't realize is her father, because he comforts her when Stan breaks up with her for not putting out.
- Stacy's Mom: Subverted, but that's what he claims when his son catches him talking about her.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Subverted. He thinks this is what he is supposed to do but finally, he makes the same decision which he did 20 years earlier.
- Shirtless Scene: The opening.
- The Talk: Mike gives an abstinence talk in health class. Ironically, it would have been even more effective if he was an adult, as he is a poster boy for what happens to your life because of teen pregnancy.
- That Was Not A Dream: In a Shout-Out to Back to the Future, Mike deliriously tells his daughter that he dreamed he was 17 again.
- Time Marches On: Compare the 1989 cheerleaders with the later ones: the 1989 cheerleaders are all girls and all dressed in short skirts that have a way of bouncing up and revealing undergarments; the cheerleaders from "now" are mostly girls, but now there are some boys in with them as well, and everyone is wearing gym shorts. Also, guys fighting in school would have been common enough back in 1989, but everyone recording the fight on their hand-held devices and uploading it to YouTube nowadays is kind of a new feature.
- Trust Password: Subverted. Mike gives several to Ned when trying to prove his identity, and Ned gives reasons why each one could've been faked. It takes looking at a picture of them both during their high school days to convince him.
- Unwanted Harem: Several school girls for Mike and eventually, his daughter and his somewhat confused wife.
- Wild Teen Party
- Writers Cannot Do Math: The present seems to take place in 2009, which would be 20 years after Scarlett's pregnancy, which would make Maggie 19 years old—yet she's still in high school; hence, no actual "now" date is given after the Time Skip. Also, though Vanilla Ice wasn't entirely unheard of in 1989, it wasn't actually until the next year that he hit it big and would have been known well enough for Mike's coach to call him "Vanilla Ice" while telling him to knock off his antics with the cheerleaders.
- You're Not My Father: After Mike forbids Maggie from moving in with Stan.