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Alliance Films' 17 Again/St Trinian's DVD Two Pack

17 Again (August 9/09)

Armed with as irresistible a premise as one could envision, 17 Again generally sustains the viewer's interest even through its few less-than-enthralling stretches - with Zac Efron's tremendously appealing lead performance playing an instrumental role in the movie's undeniable success. The film follows a depressive 37-year-old (Matthew Perry's Mike O'Donnell) as his desire to re-do his teen years is granted after he encounters a mysterious figure (Brian Doyle-Murray), with the remainder of the proceedings revolving around his teenage self's (Efron) efforts at shepherding his put-upon son (Sterling Knight's Alex) and misguided daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg's Maggie) through their tumultuous high school careers. There's little doubt that 17 Again suffers from a fairly labored opening half hour that's exacerbated by a pronounced emphasis on egregious instances of overt silliness, with such deficiencies epitomized by Mike's friendship with Thomas Lennon's almost unreasonably over-the-top Ned Gold (ie the character, a millionaire computer guru, sleeps in a Star Wars-inspired bed and engages in a sword fight with light sabers). It's not until Mike enrolls at his kids' school that 17 Again begins to live up to the potential of its set-up, with the movie's transformation into a surprisingly engaging comedy triggered by a fantastic sequence in which Efron's character verbally humiliates a notorious bully for the amusement of the student body. The atmosphere of agreeable goofiness that ensues is perpetuated by the inclusion of several laugh-out-loud comedic misunderstandings and mixups, as Mike's fish-out-of-water exploits are utilized to consistently hilarious effect by scripter Jason Filardi and director Burr Steers (with Mike's ongoing efforts at stymieing his daughter's newfound crush on him generating the movie's most pronounced guffaws). The final result is a better-than-expected endeavor that benefits substantially from Efron's effortlessly charismatic work, thus ensuring that 17 Again ultimately fits comfortably within the pantheon of above-average body-switching comedies.

out of

St Trinian's (August 10/09)

Though it boasts appearances from an impressive selection of performers (including Colin Firth, Toby Jones, and Russell Brand), St Trinian's has been infused with a hopelessly exaggerated comedic sensibility that effectively (and ultimately) negates its few positive attributes. The pervasive lack of laughs ensures that most viewers will spend much of the film's running time either rolling their eyes or checking their watch, and it's worth noting that the relentless emphasis on off-the-wall shenanigans proves instrumental in cultivating an unexpected (yet palpable) atmosphere of oppressiveness. The movie - which follows the ragtag students of the title establishment as they band together to save their beloved school from financial ruin - offers up an almost uniformly unlikable selection of characters and expects the viewer to actively root for their ongoing success, which ultimately proves so difficult that one finally can't help but cheer on the heartless bureaucrats looking to shut down St. Trinian's. It certainly doesn't help that most of the film's actors turn in unreasonably over-the-top work that inevitably grates on the viewer like nails on a chalkboard, with Rupert Everett - appearing as both a stuffy parent and the school's harebrained headmistress - offering up a painfully broad performance that easily stands as St Trinian's most stomach-turning attribute. And although there are a few admittedly clever bits sprinkled here and there throughout the proceedings - ie a dog called Mr. Darcy repeatedly humps the leg of Firth's character - St Trinian's is primarily bogged down in lowest-common-denominator type shenanigans that instantly transform the movie into a seriously interminable piece of work.

out of

About the DVDs: Alliance Films has packaged 17 Again and St Trinian's as part of a DVD two-pack, with both films receiving anamorphically-enhanced transfers. 17 Again comes up empty in terms of bonus features (unless you want to count a collectible poster and a Foot Locker coupon as bonus features), while St Trinian's comes equipped with deleted scenes, bloopers, a music video, and trailers.
© David Nusair