Curse those confounded expectations: this airbrushed Zac Efron vehicle is really not so bad. Crucially, itshowcases a performance by the High School Musical moppet that is so warm and winning it almost made me want to revisit those earlier button-eyed, song-and-dance antics.
Efron plays Mike, the 17-year-old reincarnation of a middle-aged sourpuss (Matthew Perry) who hassquandered his promise and alienated his family. As is the way in such movies, Mike gets the chance to relive his youth and starts strolling the halls of his old alma mater, fending off his pouting daughter, riding to the rescue of his bullied son, and learning some important life lessons along the way.
The script is an assortment of sugared sentiment and Day-Glo contrivances. And yet there is something convincing - even poignant - about the teenaged Mike, a prissy old celibate in the guise of a hormonal Adonis. When he's not preaching abstinence to the boys, Efron can be found earnestly lecturing a group ofincredulous girls on the value of self-respect. "You don't have to respect me," one informs him. "You don't even have to remember my name."