In 1989, 17-year-old Mike O'Donnell (Zac Efron) learns during the start of his high school championship basketball game that his girlfriend Scarlet Porter (Allison Miller) is pregnant. Moments after the game begins, he leaves the game and goes after Scarlet, abandoning his hopes of going to college and becoming a professional basketball player.
Two decades later, Mike (Matthew Perry), now 37 years old, finds his life stalled. Scarlet (Leslie Mann), now his wife and mother of their two children, has separated from him due to him blaming her for his regrets about abandoning his future, forcing him to move in with his geeky, yet extremely wealthy, best friend since high school, Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon). At his job, there comes another reason for his frustration: due to his lack of higher education and since he is significantly older than most of his co-workers, he is passed over for a promotion he deserves in favor of a much younger worker. He destroys his boss' headpiece resulting in termination from his job. His high school-age children, 17-year-old Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) and 16-year-old Alex (Sterling Knight) want nothing to do with him. Later, while visiting his high school to reminisce, an encounter with a mysterious janitor (Brian Doyle-Murray) transforms Mike back into his 17-year-old self.
After convincing Ned of his identity, Ned believes that Mike's transformation was caused by a mystical spirit guide who is trying to steer him on a better path. Mike then enrolls in high school posing as Mark Gold, Ned's son, and plans to go to college with a basketball scholarship. As he befriends his bullied son and discovers that his daughter has a boyfriend, Stan (Hunter Parrish), who does not respect her and frequently torments Alex, Mike comes to believe that his mission is to help them. He meets Stan, the captain of the basketball team, and embarrasses him in front of the whole school after Stan insults Alex. Later, in Sex Education class while the teacher is handing out condoms to the students in a basket, Stan turns to Mike and refuses to give him any, saying that he does not need them, causing quiet laughter among the class. Mike then makes a speech about love and sex in front of the whole class for Maggie's benefit, causing all of the girls to give back their condoms. Stan then takes the condoms claiming that he is stocked up for the weekend and kisses Maggie passionately. Because of this, Mike loses his temper and starts a fight with Stan. The episode is captured on video by other students and goes viral within a matter of minutes. Mike loses the fight and Ned is called up to the school.
Through their children, Mike spends time with Scarlet, who notes his remarkable resemblance to her husband in high school, but rationalizes it as an odd coincidence. Deciding to also try and fix his relationship with Scarlet, Mike begins to finish (under the pretense of getting "volunteer credit") all of the garden projects he abandoned as an adult due to his inability to move on from his high school years. He does his best to separate Stan and Maggie while also encouraging Alex to be more confident so he can make the basketball team and go out with a girl he has a crush on. Mike has difficulty resisting his desire for Scarlet despite the relationship's clear inappropriateness. Ned, meanwhile, begins to pursue the school's principal through increasingly extravagant stunts in order to win her affections, to which she adamantly rebukes. While attending the birthday party of a fellow student, Mike learns that Maggie plans to attend a local college to be closer to Stan, who is "on the managerial track at Home Depot", instead of attending Georgetown. Mike insists that Stan is no good for her, and forbids that she see him again, causing Maggie to storm off, angrily confused.
After Mike and Alex help win a basketball game, Mike decides to throw a party at Ned's house in order to further increase Alex's popularity. After school, Mike finds Maggie sobbing and learns she refused Stan's requests for sex, causing him to dump her. Mike comforts her and invites her to the party. Ned manages to secure a date with the principal by promising to buy every student a laptop. During their date, Ned tries to impress her by taking her to a fancy restaurant and pretending to know things about wine, only to confess he is a nerd when she remains unfazed. He is surprised that she too is a secret nerd, and appears quite attracted to him now. During the party, Maggie makes a very aggressive sexual advance on Mike, confusing him and causing him to admit he is in love with someone else. When Scarlet arrives in order to reprimand her children for attending a party, Mike shows her that Alex has finally managed to get together with his crush, leading Mike and Scarlet to have a very intimate conversation where Mike accidentally tries to kiss her. Disgusted, she storms off as Mike tries unsuccessfully to explain his true identity, only to be slapped by Scarlet, Maggie, and many other girls who were attracted to him. Ned arrives with the principal only to find the party, where he angrily orders everyone to leave. As the last guest departs, the principal confesses it would be unwise if she were seen dating a parent, and says they should not see each other.
On the day of the court hearing to finalize Scarlet and Mike's divorce, Mike makes one last attempt to win her back (as Mark) by reading a supposed letter from Mike. He states that although he couldn't set things right in the beginning of his life, it doesn't change the fact that he still loves her. He also explains that even though he still wants to be with her, he should let her move on. After he exits, Scarlet notices that the "letter" is actually the directions to the courtroom and she begins to grow curious. As a result, she postpones the divorce by a month. Frustrated that he could not salvage his marriage, Mike decides there is no path for him to follow and decides to once again pursue a scholarship and move on with a new life. During a high school basketball game, Mike reveals himself to Scarlet. As Scarlet once again runs away down the hall, Mike decides to chase her down once more, but not before handing the ball off to his son. Mike is then transformed back into his 37-year-old self, and reunites with Scarlet.
As Mike prepares for his first day as the new coach at his children's school, Ned, who has successfully started a relationship with the principal, gifts him a whistle, both happy with their new starts in life.Matthew Perry and Zac Efron as Michael "Mike" O'Donnell: Perry portrays Mike at age 37, while Efron portrays Mike at age 17 in the opening flashback to 1989 and after Mike has undergone his magical transformation.
Leslie Mann and Allison Miller as Scarlet Porter O'Donnell: Mike's wife and the mother of his children. Mann plays Scarlett as an adult and Miller plays the teenaged Scarlett in the opening scene.
Michelle Trachtenberg as Margaret Sarah "Maggie" O'Donnell: Mike and Scarlet's daughter.
Sterling Knight as Alexander "Alex" O'Donnell: Mike and Scarlet's son.
Thomas Lennon and Tyler Steelman as Ned Gold: Mike's best friend. Lennon plays the adult Ned, while Steelman portrays Ned in the opening flashback.
Melora Hardin as Principal Jane Masterson: principal of the high school that Maggie, Alex and the rejuvenated Mike attend. She is also Ned's love interest.
Hunter Parrish as Stan: Maggie's aggressive boyfriend.
Jim Gaffigan as Coach Murphy: the high school basketball coach who has been there for 20 years.
Kat Graham, Tiya Sircar and Melissa Ordway as Jamie, Samantha and Lauren: the three girls who continually try to impress Mike.
Josie Loren as Nicole: the head cheerleader and Alex's crush.
Nicole Sullivan as Naomi: Scarlet's best friend
Margaret Cho as Mrs. Dell: a teacher
Brian Doyle-Murray as the Janitor: the magical figure or guardian angel who makes the transformation possible.
The film received mixed reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 55%, based on 142 reviews, with an average rating of 5.4/10. The site's consensus reads, "Though it uses a well-worn formula, 17 Again has just enough Zac Efron charm to result in a harmless, pleasurable teen comedy." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 48 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4.
The film was predicted to take in around $20 million in its opening weekend. Opening in 3,255 theaters in the United States and Canada, the film grossed $23,722,310 ranking #1 at the box office, with 70% of the audience consisting of young females. By the end of its run, 17 Again grossed $64,167,069 in North America and $72,100,407 internationally, totaling $136,267,476 worldwide.
17 Again: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on April 21, 2009 by New Line Records.
"Kid" by The Pretenders
"Nookie" by Limp Bizkit
"The Underdog" by Spoon
"High School Never Ends" by Bowling for Soup (Used in movie trailer/commercial)
"Push It Fergasonic (DJ Axel Mashup)" by Fergie, Salt-n-Pepa, JJ Fad
- "On My Own" by Vincent Vincent and The Villains
- "Can't Say No" by The Helio Sequence
- "L.E.S. Artistes" by Santigold
- "Naïve" by The Kooks
- "This Is Love" by Toby Lightman
- "You Really Wake Up the Love in Me" by The Duke Spirit
- "The Greatest" by Cat Power
- "Rich Girls" by The Virgins
- "This Is for Real" by Motion City Soundtrack
- "Drop" by Ying Yang Twins
- "Cherish" by Kool & The Gang
- "Bust a Move" by Young MC
- "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins
The orchestral score was written by Rolfe Kent and orchestrated by Tony Blondal. It was recorded at Skywalker Sound