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Jan 24th
10:06 pm
'Liberal Arts' Reviews/Monday Twitters/Etc.  
I'm kind of bored waiting for more reviews (they need to stop watching new movies and write reviews! LOL) so I'm just going to go ahead post what we have so far even though some reviews are still pending.

The second screening was yesterday morning and also got a standing ovation and lots of love on twitter. So I've got some twitters, reviews and other comments from the cast on Zac's role. We'll start with twitters about Zac:

Some great comments, though I'm surprised that both major trades (THR and Variety) were kind of down on it overall, though at least THR seemed to like Nat/Zac more than Variety. IDK if it is a disconnect in generation? Or… idk. Anyway, please check out the sources for full reviews.

Radnor directs with confidence and although the film lacks distinctive stylistic flourishes, it’s populated with entertaining characters, including Jenkins as the reluctant retiree, Allison Janney playing Jesse’s cynical and amorous former lit professor, and Zac Efron as a shamanistic campus hanger-on.

At its heart, Liberal Arts about a struggle against adulthood. You have Radnor’s character going back to his alma mater and falling for a 19-year-old student (Olsen). You have his favorite professor (Jenkins) struggling with retirement. And along the way, other characters pop in and out (Efron is one particular bright spot) who dole out life lessons and ideas about what that all means.

The real treasure within Liberal Arts is an all to brief supporting turn by Zac Efron as this sort of free-loving, care-free, twenty-something who ends up steering Fisher in the right direction.

Through a series of scenes, including Peter's pathetic retirement party and Jesse's unlikely encounters with manic-depressive intellectual Dean (John Magaro) and painfully kooky Nat (Zac Efron), a blissful slacker full of aphorisms, "Liberal Arts" draws a slick, simplistic overview of college life, to which Jesse feels nostalgically drawn….

Zibby's passion for improv is never once seen onscreen, robbing the film of natural comic material, but then again, nothing in this careful entertainment is given over to improvisation or impulse. Janney and Jenkins inject a human, smart sensibility, while Efron is an annoyance, and Magaro tends to be actorish.

On one of his random forays across the quad, he meets Nat, a carefree hippie played by Zac Efron who encourages Jesse with all kinds of Bohemian sentiments ("be love, man!"). Efron totally steals the movie, adding a much needed comedic interlude to some of the more heady discussions you may assume would be in a film with this title.

In the meantime, we’re offered an inspired, anti-Zac Efron turn by Mr. Efron himself, playing that kid at school with a name that sounds like the clothes he wears. In this case, Nat.

Although the story revolves around Zibby and Jesse’s generation gap relationship, whose respective actors share a palpable chemistry, it would be an incredible injustice to not mention the amazing supporting characters that Radnor treats us to.  Zac Efron (yes, it’s him, and I honestly couldn’t tell for sure it was him till the credits, mostly due to his character and a knit beanie that is a permanent fixture upon his head) plays the hilariously, not-sure-if-he’s-stoned hippie Nat, who crosses Jesse’s path only a couple times but becomes his mentor in taking things as they come and not being afraid to say yes to things that might be uncomfortable. 

With nice supporting turns by Alison Janney (as an intimidating literature professor), Zac Efron (as a prone-to-Zen-philosophizing student) and especially John Magaro (as a depressed English major), the movie suggests a kinder, sweeter version of Wonder Boys. It’s far and away the strongest film I’ve seen this year at the festival, and it seems almost certain to land a big acquisition deal.

That was followed by the world premiere of BCDF’s Liberal Arts at the Eccles, written by, directed, co produced and starring Josh Radnor and co starring Elizabeth Olsen. Both were absolutely terrific in the film as was the rest of the cast, with Zac Efron giving a hilarious, out of character performance and with Richard Jenkins giving yet another moving and layered performance (remember how incredible he was in The Visitor a few years back?).

An unbilled Zac Efron does a decent job channeling Pitt in True Romance.

Others that don't mention Zac specifically: FilmSchoolRejects.com, Paste Magazine, and V Magazine.

Misc. Interviews/Comments about Zac

From the Q&A:

From THR, Lizzie thinks Zac and Allison steal the show:

From a GQ interview with Josh and Lizzie:
GQ: Zac Efron has a funny cameo in your film as Nat, a wise stoner. Was that character based on someone you knew?

Josh Radnor: No, but the name was. We had a guy on campus named Nat who had befriended this big drug guy. Nat looked much older than a college student. And after the drug guy got kicked out of school—for trying to light the dorm carpet on fire—Nat was suddenly gone. We started going, I think Nat was a NARC.

Popsugar has a red carpet interview with Josh but he basically says the same thing he said onstage.

Other General LA Twitter Comments

P.S. Slightly OT to above but Sparks has said they're doing some promo shooting tomorrow for TLO so that's exciting.

Mood: soresore
21 21 comments Comment
Bee: Zac – CStC Premiere - pointing fingerjeezbee on January 25th, 2012 05:45 am (UTC)
Yay for the great reviews and almost everyone seems to love him in this role. A bit sad though that the more negative film reviews seem to come from the trades while everyone else either loved it or thought at least it was a sweet little movie even if it wasn't that profound.

I absolutely love that (for the first time?) Zac's praise from the non-critics is entirely based on his performance and not how he looks.
It's Audrey not Aubreyaudrey_za on January 25th, 2012 06:36 am (UTC)
And I do have to say that Zac Efron and Allison Janney steal the film I think

LOVE it (and Lizzie!) and definitely won't tire of her perhaps re-stating that lovely "personal opinion" again and again and again and again... :D
It's Audrey not Aubrey: Mandyaudrey_za on January 25th, 2012 06:41 am (UTC)
PS, LUV what she says about the Super Bowl/football in general. Girl after my own heart. :')
Beejeezbee on January 25th, 2012 06:45 am (UTC)
And she's a Lakers fan. :)
The Writers Denmusewriter on January 25th, 2012 06:45 am (UTC)
I wasn't expecting much from this movie tbh since it seems to be a cameo with only a few scenes, but the more I read the reviews and comments, the more excited I get!

I love it when he does comedy...he needs to do more of it.
kleth on January 25th, 2012 07:11 am (UTC)
"I honestly couldn’t tell for sure it was him till the credits, mostly due to his character and a knit beanie that is a permanent fixture upon his head"

Say what, a knit beanie? Wow, there's a sure-fire disguise, no wonder he/she couldn't recognize him.
Miranda gives everyone a chancemirandagirll on January 25th, 2012 11:59 am (UTC)
How is a beanie a disguise when that's pretty much all we see Zac in whenever we get candid pictures? Unless I completely missed to sarcasm in your statement, then if so, I apologize.
kleth on January 25th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
You completely missed it. Your question answers itself - clearly, since a beanie is a Zefron signature look, I was being puckish. For future reference, just keep in mind that almost everything I say is satiric, snide, sardonic, sarcastic, or otherwise teasing to some degree.
zacefronfan26 on January 25th, 2012 07:36 am (UTC)
That is some very excited news about the reviews for Liberal Arts and the tweet from speaks about promo shooting I'm getting really excited for the Lucky one even more.
Miranda gives everyone a chancemirandagirll on January 25th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
I can't decide which review of Zac is my favorite. I'd probably say the two comments about "Zac Efron stealing the show" are some of my favorites, but the (comparison?) to Brad Pitt "An unbilled Zac Efron does a decent job channeling Pitt in True Romance" makes me smile.

Now I'm hoping for more reviews like this about Zac for the rest of 2012.

Also, I don't know if this is legit, but I saw a few articles mention that Liberal Arts either has a distributor or is getting offers from a distributor and how it could possibly get a wide release.

Edited at 2012-01-25 12:08 pm (UTC)
kleth on January 25th, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
I think we are justified in being hopeful. If a movie that gets standing ovations at each showing and dozens of rave reviews doesn't get picked up by a good distributor, then Sundance serves no purpose. (Unless, of course, the wildly favorable reception makes the producers giddy and they hold out for a higher bid that never comes).
Bee: Zac – CStC - leaving cottage - candlejeezbee on January 25th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
There have been reports about interest and talks from distributors but as of now no distributor has closed a deal and picked it up (or it closed and it's just not announced yet, but in this case an announcement would normally follow soon).

THR just said that several more deals should come soon and included Liberal Arts in that list. Let's hope it comes through.
lilly4848lilly4848 on January 25th, 2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
Oh yes! I so hope a wide distribution is in the future. I am SO PSYCHED about all of these really positive reviews. It does my heart good. I am doing the happy dance in honor of Zefron.
lilly4848lilly4848 on January 25th, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, and screw Variety.
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on January 26th, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
we won't know till later more details but there's the distributor anyway.

annabelle83 on January 25th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy with all the positive reviews! Wonder how big his role is. He only filmed for two days, but it seems that he ended up with more screen time than I thought. Maybe as big as his role in New Year's Eve?
kleth on January 25th, 2012 10:04 pm (UTC)
Well, we know positively that there are least two scenes: (1) on the lawn, as mentioned in the snippet above; (2) in a party scene, mentioned in a Kenyon Collegian story last summer. Neither may be more than a minute or two.

If this thing gets distributed, they'd be wise to use Zac in some of the promo but keep his scenes embargoed; several hundred thousand Efron fans will go to see this movie just to gratify their curiosity about his role.
kleth on January 25th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, and his screen time can't be anything like in NYE -- he had almost 10 minutes in NYE and needed several more days of shooting for all those scenes.
lilly4848lilly4848 on January 25th, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but it makes you wonder how he could "steal the show" with such limited screen time. LOL
Wonder how much time Allison had.
Miranda gives everyone a chancemirandagirll on January 26th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC)
I read one review that said Allyson only had like 1 or 2 lines, so her part wasn't big either, but I've seen reviews say that either her or Zac stole the show, so it has to be longer screen time than 2 minutes.

Edited at 2012-01-26 03:40 am (UTC)
kleth on January 26th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
In a few hours, this movie will be screened in San Francisco. Hopefully, a hard-core Zac fan will post a review somewhere on the Internet, ignoring the other aspects and providing a frame by frame account of Zac's performance. Please.