Until a while ago, I refused to watch this movie based solely on how bad it looks in the trailer (another reason I don’t trust trailers). Basically, if you watch the trailer it looks like a typical Disney comedy pandering to the fans of ‘The Efron’ with lots of shirtless shots and perfect hair. So, as you can imagine, I was sceptical about seeing it. However, in practice, it is better than it looks. Matthew Perry’s relatively limited role in the film comes across as pretty much ‘his life since F.R.I.E.N.D.S died’ with lots of apparent bitterness showing through. However, it is hard to tell if this is him or the character, since it is the driving force behind the plot.
The plot itself seems to bear a resemblance to the events of It’s A Wonderful Life (what little I’ve heard about it), crossed with buddy comedies and Back To The Future. The Back To The Future movies are damn good, as a trilogy they’re up there with the greats, so to see references to them in this relatively good movie was pleasant, rather than grating as it would be in a crap movie (I half expected to hear the line “You’re safe and sound now, back here in 1955”). Normally I would be more dismissive of a movie like this, but it surprised me. It kept me interested and wanting to see what happens, even though it was so obvious that it was practically a foregone conclusion. I’m sure most dudes with wives would be thinking “damn, it should’ve been the other way around” about the husband-wife relationship in the film. But let’s face it, if it was done that way, it would’ve seemed a lot more creepier than it already is, due to the teenage girl/40 year old dude dynamic it would’ve had (although they could’ve kept Matthew Perry on as the husband). Plus it couldn’t serve as a vehicle for ‘The Efron’ if they went down that road.
Maybe I’m not the best person to write this review, because I am already quite prejudiced against Efron and similar people from the High School Musical franchise. It can’t help that my girlfriend was watching it with me and drooling over Zac Efron’s hot body, gleaming pecs, his washboard abs and the way the sun shines off his — no. Not going to go down that road again. There is no way that I could write that sentence in detail and not sound gay, so I’ll just leave it as it is. *
This movie is quite enjoyable if you’re a casual nerd (like me), because some of the film is centred around Ef and his best friend Ned, who is an extreme nerd. A rich nerd, but still a nerd. Due to this, the film contains nerd moments that make some of the literally laughable humour, like Ned trying to chat up Efron’s headmistress while dressed like some sort of pimp, the little lightsabre fight about 15 minutes in, or the fact that Ned and said Headmistress build a relationship based on the fact that they both speak Elvish.
It is nice to see Efron’s interaction with his kids and to see how he helps them with their own lives, while all the while working to bring the family unit back together, although it does seem like typical cheesy family fare. Again, this is much like Back To The Future, especially when his own daughter comes on to him, but that’s a good thing considering that it’s not a horrible excuse for a movie as I feared it would be.
All in all, this movie isn’t that bad. I suspect that opinion will shock many of you that know me, but there it is. The fact that Matthew Perry’s bitter persona is supposed to be the aged version of Pretty Boy Efron isn’t quite convincing, but during the movie you just don’t care, and it is funny to see a thirty something lady hit on her ‘Efron-ified’ husband, especially when I thought that the movie would try to say that she didn’t notice (of course she would, she knew him when he was that age). If you have a spare ninety minutes or so, you could do worse than checking out this movie. (Much worse – think Highlander 2, or Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom)
*My, what a sweet ass…