Did I Ever Tell You How Much I Liked The Movie 17 Again???

November 24th, 2009

Under normal circumstances I don’t think I ever would have watched 17 Again starring Zac Efron and… uh… also some other people.  The movie was released some time ago and I passed it over many times without a single glance back.  It was clearly not my kind of a film as there was no damp English countryside, no ancient vine covered manor, no breeches, no tunics and certainly no clippity clop of horses hooves upon a cobbled path.  Instead, I reached for my more typical fare of Wives and Daughters or The Wings of A Dove, or The Forsythe Saga and passed up 17 Again… and again… and again.  

“How can I be so stupid?”, you might ask.  ”Had I never watched High School Musical?” you might query.  ”Do I live in a cave?” you might wonder.  The answer to all these questions is… well… I am raising four sons and I am sorry to tell you this, but High School Musical is not on their radar.  Aside from all the singing and dancing which instantly repels them, there is also the fact that HSM is about a dilemma they could never comprehend. Why would anyone who has legitimate basketball skills spend one single second of his life contemplating a theater career?  To my kids, this borders on blasphemy.  God gives you gold and you turn it into straw?  Without a child in the house driving the High School Musical bus, we remained hopelessly ignorant of not only High School Musical, but also the considerable charm of Zac Efron. 

So how is it I came to watch 17 Again starring Zac Efron of High School Musical fame?

Well… let me tell you!

It happened on the plane trip back home from London to Houston.  It was a fourteen hour flight.  Each seat on the plane had it’s own video screen, and you could choose from literally hundreds of shows to watch.  I can’t remember everything I watched, as it bleeds together like a bad dream.  I toured a castle, and then Kiera Knightly appeared out of the fog to a Mr. Darcy who was sadly not Colin Firth, while a large foul-mouthed magician and a tiny silent magician took turns shooting each other across a table.  After a while, I got a headache, turned off the screen and took a nap.  When I awoke, I glanced to see what my eldest son was watching and it was a cheerleading routine.

Suddenly my headache disappeared.  The blood vessels in my brain opened.  My heart started pumping blood like a heavy weight.  My gray hair turned to gleaming chestnut, my chin whiskers popped out on their own volition, and the sagging flesh that covers from head to toe sprang upwards to the heavens with a new found vigor.   This is what happens to me whenever I watch a cheerleading routine. It is the fountain of youth.  It just looks so FUN!  SO UPBEAT!  So HAPPY and YOUTHFUL! The cheerleaders BOUNCE and FLIP, and SHAKE and VIBRATE and throw each other in the AIR!  And then there is the music!  It is always the hippest, most happenin’, most now, most space ship soundin’ music EVER! Can someone please put a cheer-leading routine in a bottle?  I need a double dose every day.  

When I saw that my son was watching a cheerleading routine, I didn’t stop to ask why?  Or how?  Or what the…?   I just furiously turned it on and watched 17 Again for myself. Ever since then, I have tirelessly devoted my life to furthering the cheer-leading/dancing/acting career of Zac Efron.  May his reign be long and his cheer moves always stay cutting edge.

Aside from the fabulous cheerleading routine, the movie is really good.  No, really.  REALLY!  IT IS!  There are some great comic moments, some heart rendering scenes, some eternal truths and bonus – CHEERLEADING!  You will enjoy it even if you think you absolutely will not.  It makes for great thanksgiving family movie fare.  But I may be the only person on the planet who didn’t know that already.  

 A few other films I have watched over the past few months that are worth a mention…



Possession starring Gwyneth Paltrow and some guy with a nice big clefted chin. I loved this film and here are a few blatantly obvious reasons why…

First – The damp English countryside…

Secondly- Crumbling manor with cock-eyed inhabitants…

Thirdly –  A secret love affair wrapped up in a literary mystery…

Fourthly –  Gwyneth wears GREAT TWEEDY CLOTHES…

And lastly –  Did I say damp English countryside yet?  

This is a great movie for anyone who loves great books and who also…  loves the damp English countryside.



Amazing Grace starring Ioan Gruffud and Romola Garai (Those are their real names – I did not make them up).  I watched this movie against my will.  It kept popping up in my Netflix ‘movies you will love’.  Normally, I whole-heartedly trust my NetFlix ‘movies you will love’.  In fact, I think that my NetFlix ‘movies you will love’ knows me better than anyone on the planet.  Has anyone searched the depths of my soul the way my NetFlix ‘movies you will love’ has?  Has anyone penetrated the very core of my being, always knowing the exact movie that fills my incessant need for the damp English countryside, vine covered cottage, assortment of tweedy wild-eyed people who discover a murder in the garden and promptly serve tea on the veranda?  No one!  NO ONE!  NO ONE HAS EVER CARED SO MUCH BEFORE!  No one has ever even TRIED!  I love my NetFlix ‘movies you will love’ and I will swear unending fidelity until time immemorial!


As a result, I eventually gave way to my Netflix ‘movies you will love’ and reluctantly watched Amazing Grace.  It’s wonderful.  It tells the story of William Wilberforce, an English member of parliament who spent his life trying to make the slave trade illegal in England. The movie may sound very harsh and dismal and grim – and those elements are certainly there – but there is also the heroism of a long noble fight, people who never give up, joy in the midst of crushing pain and yes – damp English countryside, crumbling manor, wild eyed people in tweedy breeches, long shots of glorious gardens, and the clippity clop of horses hooves upon a cobbled path.  It really is a great film.  Get all the kids and watch it together. You won’t regret it.



Under the Greenwood Tree starring Keeley Hawes and James Murray

I watched this movie quite a while ago, but it has stayed with me.  Based on a Thomas Hardy book, I assumed that this story would involve dire situations that people can’t possibly overcome and choose instead to freeze to death in a snow storm only a few feet from shelter and warmth.  But Under the Greenwood Tree was not like that at all.  It is full of mirth and passion and goofy characters.  I did not know old Mr. Thomas Hardy had it in him.  He must have written it either in his youth when he still had hope for humankind, or in his old age to make up for all his grim tales of insufferable sorrow.  In this story, a school teacher and a miller take a very strong likin’ to each other while a drunken dance band/church choir stages a rebellion against a pompous vicar who wants the school marm for hisself. Everyone must decide if sobriety is worth the price of love… or something like that.  A very fun film.  AND!!!!!

James Murray….


…looks an awful lot like the cheer leading man Zac Efron.  Except with an ENGLISH ACCENT!


  • Have you read the book “Possession”? Did they make a movie out of a book that I love? I don’t have a good feeling about this. You’re saying the movie was good?

    I have not seen HSM either, but thanks to my one daughter I have been subjected to hours of Hannah Montana so I know who Jake…er…Ephron is. (Jake is his name on the show). Cheerleaders? I dunno. Not that you’d ever steer me wrong, but, well…

  • Debra:

    I didn’t know they made a movie out of Possession either! Please tell me it will be okay cause the book is always better than the movie. I’m happy to meet someone who loves British old tweedy etc. too! Since you recommend it so highly, I will watch 17 again as I am also out of that High School Musical loop stuff.

  • I am adding Under the Greenwood Tree and Possession to my queue right now. Because! Get this! Rechelle’s recommendations are better than Netflix’s. Well, I’m not really sure about that since I don’t listen to my Netflix movies you will love thingy. Maybe I will give that a try. But! I watched Cold Comfort Farm last night and it was wonderful. I think I may buy it. I’ve been walking around all day saying, “I saw something naaaasty in the wood shed!”

    Amazing Grace and 17 Again were also good. Amazing Grace is an incredible story but a little slow. 17 Again is a little fluffy with just the right amount of heartwarming thrown in. Zac Efron is cute, but I could be his mother. I have not seen High School Musical, but if someone tells me it’s almost as good as Glee I’ll watch it.

  • I will have to watch Possession–since it apparently contains my other favorite part of “Pride & Prejudice” (Jennifer Ehle), and Jeremy Northam. Did you watch “Emma” with Gwyneth Paltrow and him? He’s some cuteness.

  • Yeah, that Zac Efron thing snuck up on me too. My kids were too young for HSM when it all came out, so I first saw him in the remake of Hairspray. After the movie, I was like “Wow! Who was *that*?!” so I IMDB’ed him and found out that I shared my crush with every 13yo girl on the planet. Gaahh.

    My Netflix “movie you will love” is currently “UFC number 37″! Because my husband watches all the fights and old samurai movies from Netflix, and the occasional “The Other Boelyn Girl” isn’t going to sway Netflix from recommending “Ground Fighting: Breaking all the Rules”.

    Another excellent post!

  • Rechelle:

    No, I have not read the book Possession -I didn’t even know it was a book.

  • Rechelle:

    Angie – Yes! Ehle is great and so good to see her in another film.

  • Martha in Kansas:

    Gosh I’m getting pretty far behind. Must catch up with the world. That Murray guy is a more broody version of the cheerleading guy. And is that 4th picture from the bottom Mr. Darcy staring out into the mist???? (Am I hopeless?)

  • Once again I will say, you write so well. I will have to check out Possession because I like Gwyneth Paltrow and Amazing Grace also. Thanks for the reviews and recommendations. You made it very entertaining.

  • sweetpeah:

    But that Zac E is sooooooooooooo young…..makes me feel very old here

  • theresa:

    Jenni in KS, HSM is not as good as Glee…just longer. I saw an interview with the guy who plays Finn and he said Glee is like HSM if it was punched in the stomach and had its milk money stolen!! Funny AND cute!!!

  • I too have no one in my house dying to see HSM and winced at the thought of 17 again. My sis-n-law insisted I would like it. She also shares the love of the damp English side, tweedy people and the likes. So I finally gave in. You are right. It is really good. My husband and I enjoyed it and its a great family film.

    Thank you for the list of movies. I wrote them down on a post-it. I am overdue for some damp English countryside. Love your writing! Netflix – who knew? Redbox is just that, a box :)

  • Martha in Kansas – No it isn’t Mr. Darcy but it sure looks like him.

  • Ah, no wonder I look so young: must be my diet of High School Musical 1, 2 and 3, 17 Again and Hannah Montana! ;-)

    Oh – and I can’t thank you enough for that link to the delightful Fall Leaves series – it really is pure genius!

  • Sorry, no time to comment. Must go load up my Netflix and update my queue. : )

    (No HSM here either. OR Hannah Montana. I hope these all pass before my kids are old enough to be interested. I can, however, quote Cars, Madagascar 2, and Bolt for you.)

  • Rachelle – I loved the movie Possession. But I hated the book. Just a heads up. Everybody’s tastes are different. Can’t go wrong with some Jennifer Ehle in period garb, even if Colin Firth isn’t in the next frame.

  • Okay the movie Possession is great …..but the book is even better!!! I saw the movie first and then read the book twice!!!

    A S Byatt is a tremenouse writer and that launched me into reading all of her books!! That took care of a few weeks this summer.

    Thanks for the heads up on Greenwood Tree and Amazing Grace I’m going over to my local library and order up those two!!

  • SandyS.:

    You will like “Oliver’s Travels”. Saw it on PBS years ago and still remember it. Google it and check it out. Beautiful English countryside, a lady detective and her professor boyfriend.

  • I watched “17 Again” with my teenage daughter a few months ago. Then I made her sit down with me (under protest) and watch “18 Again” with George Burns and Charlie Schlatter, do you remember that one from the 80′s?

  • Sarah H.:

    I loved Amazing Grace … and Possession (although of course the book is so great that it’s difficult to make a great movie … but then there’s Aaron Eckhart so that makes it all ok … plus the countryside and Gwenyth’s hair, of course)

    BUT everyone should really, really, really read A.S. Byatt’s books. They are all great. The latest, “The Children’s Book,” is wonderful, as is “Possession.”

  • Jennifer:

    Not ashamed to admit that I went to see that in the theater. I enjoyed it a lot. I particularly enjoyed watching Zac, even if he is waaaay too young for me. I’ll admit to that.
    Oooh, I loved Under the Greenwood Tree. When Masterpiece runs those great series’, I tuck myself into bed upstairs and enjoy. My husband knows to leave me be when watching damp, British mini-series’!

  • ms martyr:

    I recognize James Murray from the BBC show Primeval. Your boys would probably like it since it involves dinosaurs showing up in present day England. Sadly, it’s been discontinued.

  • Shay W.:

    I’ve been too nervous to try the movie Possession – the book is absolutely a tour de force, with the layers of plots and the complexity and the exploration of the title word in every nuance of its meanings. (I love it, can you tell?) I was afraid the movie would over-trivialize.

    I, too, am out of the Hannah Montana/High School Musical loop, but like a previous poster saw Efron in the Hairspray remake and said, “Who is THAT?!” (I thought he was the best thing about the movie.) Perhaps 17 Again could make it onto the Netflix queue at some point …

  • JJ:

    We JUST watched 17 last weekend and I was very pleasantly surprised with the story line. It was good! They put Zac in there for the kids and the storyline spoke to us adults.
    I will take you up on some of your other suggestions – you have never steered me wrong – I can always count on a good book or movie recommendation from you!
    If cheerleading is your thing and you like musical numbers you may like GLEE. I was very doubtful at first – but I look forward to it every week to put a smile on my face. The episode with the football players dancing to Single Ladies cracks me up.

  • Nancy in PA – I will have to watch the George Burns version.

    And I am going to find me some A.S Bryant books!

  • Mrs. CD — I loved Amazing Grace! Have you watched the Hornblower series? The men in your house might like it.