Rolling Stone, Peter Travers
Efron, who's been proving himself a capable actor in films such as Me and Orson Welles and The Paperboy, gives a vibrant, resourceful performance powered by an inner strength. His scenes with Quaid are electric. There's a palpable tension between them, and also an abiding love.
The Observer, Rex Reed
Under the influence of writer-director Ramin Bahrani, Mr. Efron moves another step in the direction of mature psychological complexity and several miles further away from his frivolous fan base of teenyboppers who hark back to his High School Musical days.
NY Times, Stephen Holden
The hot-wired performances by Mr. Quaid and Mr. Efron drive them home in a movie that sticks to your ribs and stays in your head.
Film.com, William Goss
Subtlety is hardly at home here, with Quaid’s especially earnest performance a well-suited mask for Henry’s desperation that nonetheless amplifies the phoniness of the entire enterprise. Efron does a better job of conveying his long-stewing resentments with nary a word spoken, but every bit of dialogue that does come out of his mouth is similarly keyed into obvious angst.
NPR, Ella Taylor
All muscled up and blue of eye, Efron does a dandy sexy-sulky imitation of that other Dean.
LA Times, Sheri Linden
When the story works, it has a dark power that draws shrewdly upon his two leads' screen charisma…
Playing well off each other, Quaid and Efron inhabit a fine tension between possibility and despair.
Paste Magazine, Tim Grierson
As for Efron, anyone who saw him in Richard Linklater’s underrated Me and Orson Welles recognizes that the former High School Musical star has some depth beneath his boyish good looks. Dean is an ideal vehicle for Efron’s talents.
THR, David Rooney
Efron does equally strong work. Continuing to distance himself from his origins as a pretty-boy teen idol, he brings an intense, brooding stillness to the screen here, simmering with the frustrations of small-town entrapment.
Variety, Justin Chang
Starting with a montage of faded homevideo footage that casts Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as members of a heartland family, this well-acted slice of rural Americana feels like a unique marriage of studio polish and neorealist sensitivity…
The two leads are in fine form here: Quaid poignantly reveals the jumble of insincerity and good intentions beneath Henry’s boisterous exterior, while the callow streak that Efron has often displayed as an actor has never felt as raw, vital and emotionally explosive as it does here. Before it reaches a full-blown Sturm und Drang pitch, the tense father-son dynamic feels believably rooted in a long history of resentments and misunderstandings, yet it’s also complicated by Dean’s willingness to defend his dad against those who seek his downfall.
Twitch, Eric Snider
Quaid's giant grin makes him perfect to play a salesman, but it's his skill as an actor -- and this is one of his best performances -- that makes it so impactful when the chickens come home to roost and Henry's smile and forced positivity fade away. Efron is likewise praiseworthy as a sullen second son who feels left behind.
Film Journal International, Kevin Lally
Quaid and Efron (once again branching out impressively from his teen-idol roots) are each unafraid to show the less savory aspects of their characters’ small-town charisma.
Alex Billington, First Showing
It's beautifully shot, tremendously acted (by Quaid and Efron) and honestly, very affecting.
Bahrani's cast in At Any Price, despite containing some of the first well-known actors he's used, like Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid, even Heather Graham and Clancy Brown, all melt into their characters, delivering powerful performances. Quaid gives one of the best performances he's ever given, and newcomer Maika Monroe (as Efron's young girlfriend) also stands out quite a bit, along with Efron. Believe it.
Kim Voynar, MCN
Efron, meanwhile, continues to impress as an actor of real note, leaving his Disney ''High School Musical'' roots far behind with a compelling and textured performance as a young man who desperately wants not to be the man his father is, while making many of the same questionable moral choices.
Kenji Lloyd, HeyUGuys
Quaid and Efron are brilliant in the leads, [...] Efron, too, is stellar as the young Dean, giving further proof of what a fantastic actor he’s becoming, and an indication of where his career will be heading in the years to come.
The final third of At Any Price features an entirely unexpected turn of events, which lead to a power-house display of emotions on both Quaid and Efron’s parts. Ultimately, the film rises on their shoulders – it is very much a character study of this family, and the recent state of the American farming community, and with Quaid and Efron putting in such strong performances, there is much brilliance to be found here.
ScreenPicks, Brad Liberti
Of course, it helps that in Quaid and Efron, Bahrani has found two talented, dedicated actors to bring his story to life…
Also effective is Efron whose boyish features perfectly resemble those of a younger Quaid and who excels at showing us the lasting emotional scars inflicted by years of nothing but expectation and neglect. Dean reps a generation left orphaned by their parent’s mandatory 24-7 struggle to stay afloat; only to be readopted when it’s time to inherit the back-breaking yoke of the farmstead. With Bahrani’s help, Efron gives his most complex, fully realized screen performance to date, ably demonstrating the unmoving chip on the youngest Whipple’s shoulder that unfortunately brings about disastrous consequences.
Equally as impressive is Zac Efron, who follows up his solid work in Lee Daniels’ wacko The Paperboy with his best performance yet as Dean, Henry’s son with racecar dreams that interfere with his father’s vision of keeping the family in farming. Fresh-faced and handsomely muscular, Efron brings all of his trademarks to the role, but it’s his unnerving sense of fear that really elevates this performance to memorability.
Brave New Hollywood
Quaid and Efron deliver strong performances as characters that might have otherwise ended up as clichés encountered in a Nicholas Sparks novel-turned-movie…
The charismatic Efron delivers an energetic, powerful performance toe-to-toe with the crafty Dennis Quaid.