As the major studios insist, when money's tight people want movie comfort food, stories that are familiar, safe and squishy. In the case of 17 Again, Warner Bros. has gone one further. They're serving up a movie that's already been digested and regurgitated.

As the major studios insist, when money's tight people want movie comfort food, stories that are familiar, safe and squishy. In the case of 17 Again, Warner Bros. has gone one further. They're serving up a movie that's already been digested and regurgitated.

The umpteenth take on the tale of someone dissatisfied being transformed from child to adult or vice-versa, 17 Again throws in some It's a Wonderful Life to kick-start the jump back in age for floundering pharmaceuticals rep Mike O'Donnell (Matthew Perry). A magical school janitor takes him back to the age he was when he gave up a scholarship to marry his pregnant girlfriend Scarlett (Leslie Mann), who's now divorcing him.

This is where Zac Efron takes over for Perry and goes back to high school to get closer to his kids. Despite playing the same character, the two performances have little relation, but it's not like anything in this film fits together naturally.

Though Mann engages easily, her character's little more than a MILF. Others, like Mike's rich, uber-nerd best friend (Thomas Lennon) seem totally driven by comedic whim, but the effort to generate laughter is strained and unsuccessful.

'Tween girls may thrill at another 90 minutes of Efron, but they'll get a lot more fun out of renting 13 Going On 30.