James King Movies
Zefron has hovered around the edges of 'growing up' with his movie choices for a bit now. Hairspray was only a supporting role but it was a smart and cheekily political flick - nice move. This year's 17 Again couldn't quite boast the same attitude but it was pitched definately at a teen, not a tween, audience. That's a big step up for a Disney boy.
Now comes the curveball. Me & Orson Welles will see Zac's hardcore fans watching a film that deals with a 1937 production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar by the legendary actor/director Orson Welles. Hmmmm, it's hardly Keep Your Head In The Game, is it?
Well, yes. But that doesn't stop it being interesting for people who manage to not wet their Wildcats knickers at the sight of Zefron's floppy locks. Or even for those that do and who have a bit of patience.
Setting a fictional coming-of-age tale in the midst of a real event (Welles' Mercury Theatre troupe was groundbreaking) means that there's a lot of facts to get up to speed on before the heartwarming stuff really kicks in but luckily director Richard Linklater knows what he's up to. He is the guy who made coming-of-age classics Before Sunrise and Dazed & Confused after all. Me & Orson Welles is definately a case of slow and steady winning the race.
Sure, Zefron's a bit too earnest and stiff at the moment, no doubt from years of training at the Mouse House. But he's not bad. His naive character of Richard is meant to be a bit like that anyway, a wannabe actor who finds himself in a groundbreaking production after bumping into Welles outside the theatre one day. His poodle-like pursuing of theatre secretary Sonja (the luminescent Claire Danes) is genuinely 'awww, bless him' stuff.
Others are better though, most obviously newbie Christian McKay as Orson Welles, the respected thesp whose ego was as big as his talent. The spot-on New York sets (mainly filmed in the Isle Of Man) and Shakespearian snippets also rock. From the first shot, you're slap bang into another theatrical era.
So be patient and Me & Orson Welles gets there. It reminded me a bit of Mrs Henderson Presents. And whilst that was also hardly contemporary or cool, its casting of (then) teen eye candy Will Young ensured it a bigger take than anyone expected.
So there you go. Zefron is the new Will Young! (You're fired! Ed.)
Picture the scene: us at a preview screening of Me and Orson Welles, sitting right up front ready, willing and more than able to laugh our summer-lite socks off at the acting ’skills’ of one Zac Efron. Not only is he starring in a clever film - by Richard Linklater who did the beyond genius Before Sunset - but he is surrounded by actors of the calibre of Ben Chaplin and Clare Danes. How we were ready to snicker!
But no siree Bob. Nothing funny here. Move on if you’re looking for a laugh. Not only is the film charming enough to have your knickers off in ten minutes (a made-up drama about someone working with actor/director/arsehole Orson Welles), Mr. Efron has his Johnny Depp moment. You know where right before your eyes he is transformed from telly puppet to real life proper actor who’s going to have a long career and then go out with a supermodel before marrying a French singer.
The only fly in the ointment we can see is that Zac’s fan-base of smelly knickered teen tarts will hate it. But then, maybe that was the idea. Oh, and this picture here is from something else altogether. We just thought you might like that instead of chunky knits.