In my Friday Open Thread, I promised that I’d blog about Zac Efron. First off, let me clear the air here and explain that I haven’t developed some pathetic “middle-aged woman/teenage boy” obsession with him (although he does bear an uncanny resemblance, girlish hair and all, to the teen idols of my youth). What makes me interested in him is the movie 17 Again, which I saw last weekend.
SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this post is going to discuss plot lines in the movie, so if you’ve been dying to see this one, and you want it to stay fresh, you’d better stop reading right now.
17 Again is about a man who, dissatisfied with his life, is given his 17 year old body back. That is, he isn’t sent back in time to the year in which he was 17. Instead, he becomes his own children’s peer, attending high school with them. Further, he’s not completely 17 years old. Instead, he still has his adult knowledge, values, attitude and memories, except that they’re all packed into a teeny-bopper cute Zac Efron package. As the movie develops, he realizes that he’s not going to change his own life trajectory, but that he can help his children. His son his being bullied by the sociopathic captain of the baseball team and, worse, his daughter is dating the same sociopath.
With this plotline, you can imagine this is not a movie I normally would have chosen to see myself. However, given the PG-13 rating, I wanted to make sure I knew what my 11 year old daughter and her 12 year old friend would be watching. I could, of course, just have said “no” to her request to see the movie, but I knew that, thanks to DVDs, there was a 100% certainty that my daughter would end up seeing it at someone’s house in a few months. Given my certainly in that regard, it seemed to me that the smartest thing for me to do would be to know the details and counterattack — if necessary.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the movie was not very good from a grown-up perspective. Nevertheless, it earned an A+ from me for one scene. In that scene, the sex education teacher says (and I paraphrase), “We officially teach abstinence here, but we know you’re going to have sex anyone, so here are some condoms.” She then passes around the condoms. The Efron character, a 30 something father in a 17 year old body, watches his daughter take a condom, and then watches her boyfriend take a handful.
Right about this time, I was contemplating (a) dragging the girls out of the theater or (b) giving them an hour long lecture during the 20 minute ride home. As it was, I didn’t have to do either, because the cute Efron character came to my rescue.
You see, when the condom basket came to the Efron character, he refused to take one. Then, with all eyes upon him, he stood up and explained that he will not take one because he’s not in love with anyone, and you don’t have sex unless you’re in love. And, even better, you don’t have sex unless you’re married, because sex really boils down to having children. He than rhapsodized about the wonders of fatherhood, and the importance of a committed relationship.
This is the same speech I routinely give my kids. Right now, they listen politely, but I know that, in a year or two, I’ll just get eye-rolling coming back at me. With Efron giving the speech, however, my daughter and her friend were much struck by it. It meant something to them that the cutest, coolest guy in Hollywood advocated a position remarkably similar to that put forward by Mom and Dad.