Time Out says
What would have happened if, in 1989, basketball jock Mike O’Donnell (Efron) had played in that Big Game, gone to college and decided with his girlfriend to get a rhymes-with-shmashmortion? That’s an interesting scenario, but it’s not the premise of this film, which makes Mike 17 again but keeps him in the present—apparently because transmogrified dads make the best high-school-bully repellent. In 2009, by some cruel trick of biophysics, Zac Efron has become Matthew Perry. After losing a promotion and failing to talk his former sweetheart (Mann) out of a divorce, Mike meets a magic janitor who shows him that, yes, it’s indeed a wonderful life.
What follows amounts to a photonegative of Back to the Future (this time, the daughter crushes on young Dad) pitched at the wit level of an ’80s father-son mind-transfer comedy. (Thomas Lennon’s Elvish-speaking tech guru is the one inspired element.) To be fair, director Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down) doesn’t shy away from the ick factor of a 17-year-old dancing with his now-much-older wife, and Efron does a credible job of aping Perry’s mannerisms. Between this and his turn in Richard Linklater’s unreleased Me and Orson Welles, there’s evidence that the young heartthrob might make a decent leading man if only he’d apply himself.—Ben Kenigsberg
Opens Fri. .