Wednesday, 22 April 2009

17 Again

I've been putting off seeing 17 Again.

Mainly because it's a formula that's been done to death and I wasn't really ready for a yet another American over-sentimentalised view of adult-teenager relationships. The second reason is that I am very conscious of being a 40-something bloke walking in to see movies designed for teenagers.

And when it's a movie designed around the charms of Zac Efron, it makes me feel like a stereotypical middle-aged gay man which is very far from how I like to see myself.

It's very churlish to nit-pick a piece of fluff movie-making that knows it's a piece of fluff, but one element of this film made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

Like every father, our hero is out to protect his kids and works wonders with their relationships with the school bully. OK, the fact that the bully would be dating the daughter while having the son as his favourite punchbag isn't very realistic, but I'll let that slide (it might be if we'd been given some context for the kids' relationship with each other, but we have none at all).

What I found quite distasteful is our hero's very different attitude to his kids' dating. The daughter's going out with a stereotypical airhead bad guy, but that's not why the notion that he may have taken her virginity is appalling to him and her. The sex-ed class makes it clear that the idea of an almost-18 year-old having sex is simply not on.

At the same time, however, our hero manifestly encourages his younger son to go after the cheer-leader he's too shy and tongue-tied to chase at the start of the story. Not only that, but in a very laddish way during the victory party, he wants them to go off and consummate their relationship.

I don't think I'm especially sensitive to issues of sexism, but the double standards of the film industry (and especially Hollywood fluff) that all young guys should sow their seeds as quickly and energetically as possible while all young girls should remain virginal until their wedding day is hardly constructive in today's world of promoting equality and sensitivity.

Sauce for the gander not being good for the goose somehow springs to mind.

Sterling Knight(Sterling Knight, Zac's on-screen son)

A further thought...

Not because of my own sexual identity, what I think it would have made a magnificent plot element and counter-balance to some of the fluffiness would have been if the son had been gay, rather than simply too shy to chase the girl of his dreams. One of the plot elements was Zac chasing his grown-up wife while being chased by his daughter - add his son chasing him too (perhaps on the rebound), and Zac's character would have a REALLY interesting emotional triangle to deal with!

Oh, and for the record, everyone can keep Zac Efron (this was the first time I'd seen him in action and was only so-so impressed). I want to have his screen son's babies! The character's vulnerability has probably got a lot to do with it, but Sterling Knight is quite some stunner... SWOON

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