Director – Paul Flaherty, Screenplay – Josh Goldstein & Jonathan Prince, Producer – Walter Coblenz, Photography – Stephen M. Katz, Music – Billy Goldenberg, Production Design – Dena Roth. Production Company – New World Pictures.
Charlie Schlatter (David Watson), George Burns (Jack Watson), Jennifer Runyon (Robyn Morsley), Anthony Starke (Russ Deacon), Red Buttons (Charlie), Anita Morris (Madelyn), Tony Roberts (Arnold Watson)
At his 81st birthday party, millionaire Jack Watson cannot think of anything to wish for when he blows out the candles on his birthday cake except that he was 18 again. While he is out driving with his teenage grandson David, they are involved in a crash. Waking up in hospital, Jack is startled to find that he is now in David’s body. Able to run and jump once again, he joyfully celebrates his newfound youth. He then sets about sorting David’s life out, dealing with the bullies that threaten him and winning the girl of Jack’s dreams, while also learning a few truths about his own life.
18 Again was one in a fad of bodyswap comedies that came out around the same time in the late 1980s, usually featuring teenagers and their parents ending up in each other’s body. Others amid this fad included Like Father, Like Son (1987), Vice Versa (1988), Big (1988), Dream a Little Dream (1989) and Chances Are (1989). The minor point of note about 18 Again is that it featured the greatest age disparity between the two parties swapping bodies of any of these films – this is not just a teenager and his father swapping bodies but a teenager and his grandfather.
Other than that, 18 Again is a bland and unexceptional variation. It is a feelgood picture and it parades all the cliches of the genre with competent enervation but little in the way of distinction. Charlie Schlatter gives a fair performance – in fact, he does a better job of playing George Burns, going through all the crinkling his eyes affectations, smoking a cigar and so on, than Burns himself does. George Burns (who was actually 92 when 18 Again came out), usually a likable performer, gives a singularly unfunny performance – his one-liners fall flat and the scenes with Anita Morris seem embarrassing.
Director Paul Flaherty was better known as a comedy writer, having worked on numerous tv shows from Second City TV (1976-81) to The Tracey Ullman Show (1987-90) and Muppets Tonight (1996-8). Outside of directing several episodes of comedy tv shows and comedy specials, his only other two films as director were Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989) and Clifford (1994).
Full film available online here:-