Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including the Apple TV+ eight part documentary series “1971: The Year Music Changed Everything,” the Crave opioid crisis documentary “The Crime of the Century,” a rundown of the ReelAbilities Film Festival and a quick look at the Disney+ series “High School Musical.”
Zac Efron became a teen heartthrob with the success of the High School Musical movies and then did everything possible to decimate and alienate the core audience that made him a star.
He rightly realized that the shelf life of a young Disney star was limited and turned his attention to making serious but little seen films like Parkland, At Any Price and The Paperboy, an art house film better known for a scene utilizing an age-old cure for a jellyfish sting you don’t normally see administered by an Oscar winner like Nicole Kidman.
His latest movie, We Are Your Friends, the first major-studio film set in the world of electronic dance music, is a mix of music and romance that sees Efron play an aspiring DJ who falls in love with his mentor’s girlfriend.
It’s a role that should appeal to his original fanbase, the kids who have aged out of High School Musical and now listen to EDM, where his other screen choices seem to have left them behind. Occasionally he’s thrown them a bone, with popcorn movies like New Year’s Eve, or Neighbors, where he plays the prerequisite 20-something good-looking Hollywood hunk.
Take That Awkward Moment for instance. He played an avowed hook-up artist, a young guy who would rather hang out with his best friends Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) than have a meaningful relationship with a girl. In time-honoured rom-com fashion, it’s a movie that takes advantage of its leading man’s blue eyes and sculpted abs. Efron’s hair is practically a character in the film.
Perhaps while making The Lucky One, a Nicolas Sparks romance co-starring Taylor Schilling, it occurred to him that simply watching good-looking people fall in love does not a movie make.
I couldn’t help but think that Efron, when he says to Schilling’s character Beth, “I know you deserve better than this,” was actually speaking to the audience.
Luckily his other films are less about his looks and more about his ability. The Paperboy is an odd film. It’s an art house thriller — meaning that there aren’t many thrills — in which each of its stars do some fairly intense envelope pushing in a story about a reporter returning to his native Florida to investigate a murder.
Paired with risk-taking actors like Nicole Kidman, David Oyelowo, John Cusack and Matthew McConaughey, Efron works hard to shake off the early teen idol gloss that made him famous. He mostly succeeds, although director Lee Daniels’s camera still caresses the actor, taking full advantage of his effortless appeal.
In Me and Orson Welles, Efron is overshadowed by an actor playing a man who died many years before the core audience of this movie was even born. Christian McKay plays Orson Welles with such panache that Efron becomes a supporting player in his own movie but still makes a strong impression as a teenager with dreams of being on stage in this handsomely mounted period piece.
Other films like At Any Price, a 2012 powerful tale of fathers and sons and the pressure to succeed, have shown not only his depth but his willingness to stretch as an actor.
So why does Efron, who could have a movie franchise career in a heartbeat, look past the obvious career path?
Efron told the Hollywood Reporter that his often eclectic acting choices are always artistic in nature and never about money.
“I’m constantly searching for characters that are about betterment of self and betterment of others,” he says. “And I’m searching for those parts because those are the ones that make me happy. They’re the ones that fulfil me personally.”
Zac Efron became a teen heartthrob with the success of the “High School Musical” movies and then did everything possible to decimate and alienate the core audience that made him a star.
He rightly realized that the shelf life of a young Disney star was limited and turned his attention to making serious, but little seen films like “Parkland,” “At Any Price” and “The Paperboy,” an art house film better known for a scene utilizing an age old cure for a jellyfish sting you don’t normally see administered by Oscar winners like Nicole Kidman.
His latest film, “That Awkward Moment,” bridges the gap between the commercial fare that typified his early career and the edgier movies. It’s a rom com but it really is about how gross these twenty-something manboys can be.
Efron plays Jason, a New York graphic artist who designs covers for books with titles like “Diary of a Teenage CEO.” He is an avowed hook-up artist, a young guy who would rather hang out with his best friends Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) than have a meaningful relationship with a girl. That is until he meets Ellie (the excellently named Imogen Poots), a young writer with big eyes and big dreams.
“That Awkward Moment” takes advantage of Efron’s blue eyes and sculpted abs in time honoured rom com fashion. His hair is practically a character in the film. It certainly has more personality than most of the men in the movie.
This is the kind of movie that makes me glad I don’t have daughters in the dating pool. The three main characters—Jason, Miles and Mikey—are frat boys who speak Bro Code, using terms like “Double Gopher” and advising their divorced friend to create a roster of women rather than get tied down to one woman.
And yet before you can cue the Drunk Rom Com Xbox Montage ™, these young idiots have met and canoodled with women who are WAY more interesting than they deserve.
Daniel takes up with Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), an Upper West Side child of privilege (who also sings the blues in nightclubs) while Jason struggles with his feelings for Elie. Both women hand in charming, funny performances that feel like they’ve been beamed in from another, better movie, and are the reason to see the film.
“That Awkward Moment” works better when it drops the frat boy stuff and embraces its rom com roots. When it focuses on the real relationships between the guys and Ellie and Chelsea it plays like a regular rom com. Beyond that it might mainly be of interest as a cautionary tale for parents of twenty something women.