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Category: Zac Efron

'The Lucky One': Zac Efron romance unlucky with most critics

April 20, 2012 |  2:11 pm

The Lucky One
The new romance "The Lucky One," starring Zac Efron as a weary Marine and Taylor Schilling as a beautiful stranger, is the latest in a line of film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks' weepy novels. (In case you've forgotten, the list includes "Dear John," "The Last Song" and most famously "The Notebook.") As is often the case with Sparks' movies and their imitators (including "The Vow" earlier this year), critics agree that "The Lucky One" is a tear-jerker best left to hard-core romance fans.

In one of the more positive reviews, the Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey calls "The Lucky One" a "sweet but not too syrupy romance" and "the best Sparks-inspired film to come along since 'The Notebook.' " It's certainly not perfect: "Without much tension, the film becomes more of an extended music video of Logan and Beth's [Efron and Schilling's characters] rocky road to love," Sharkey writes. But the film is "beautifully captured by director of photography Alar Kivilo," she says, while Efron is "in his wheelhouse," Schilling is "moving," and director Scott Hicks "keeps 'The Lucky One' from turning into complete mush."

The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday is less impressed and describes the film as a "tepid, inert enterprise." "The Lucky One," she continues, is "devoid of genuine tension, conflict or combustible chemistry between its two stars," and "just prettily sits there." So does Efron, for that matter: "The role of a stoic, expressionless philosopher-soldier requires that he tamp down his natural exuberance and physical grace, a regrettable misuse of his native talents." Invoking "The Notebook," Hornaday concludes that "'The Lucky One' tries hard to re-bottle that lightning, to no avail."

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Zac Efron's 'Lucky One' could unseat 'Hunger Games'

April 16, 2012 | 10:21 am

Zac Efron's "The Lucky One" could beat "The Hunger Games" at the box office next weekend. Unless "Think Like a Man, "the movie based on the Steve Harvey book, does it
Zac Efron has some news for "The Hunger Games": Your reign in first place is about to end.

But it could be Steve Harvey claiming the title as the new top dog.

Efron's "The Lucky One," a tear-jerker romance adapted from author Nicholas Sparks' novel of the same name, looks likely to claim the No. 1 spot at the multiplex this weekend, which would knock "The Hunger Games" from the top spot.

But if the Warner Bros. film can't close the deal, look for Harvey's comedy "Think Like a Man" to premiere in first place.

"The Hunger Games" has been the nation's most popular film four consecutive weeks, and has grossed more than $337 million in domestic theaters to date. It is thus far 2012's top release, far ahead of "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," with $204.5 million so far.

If "The Lucky One" isn't lucky enough to unseat “The Hunger Games,” the honor may go to Screen Gems' "Think Like a Man." If the audience tracking surveys are accurate, each film could gross $20 million or more in its debut, which should be more than enough for the top spot. Last weekend, "The Hunger Games" grossed an estimated $21.5 million, but should fall to about $15 million next weekend.

"The Lucky One," in which Efron plays a soldier who appears to be protected by the photograph of a woman he doesn't know, is appealing to younger women, the tracking surveys suggest. Men will either not attend or only go at gunpoint.

"Think Like a Man," adapted from Harvey's bestselling book, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," is a relationship comedy starring Chris Brown, Kevin Hart and Regina Hall. Its core audience is older African American women, the surveys indicate, but it has broad support from younger black women and a good percentage of men.


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-- John Horn

Photo: Zac Efron in “The Lucky One.” Credit: Alan Markfield / Warner Bros.

Live chat with 'The Lucky One's' Nicholas Sparks on Oct. 13

October 7, 2011 |  6:30 am

Live chat with Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks, whose book "The Lucky One" is getting the big-screen treatment in April, will be joining us for a live online chat on Thursday, Oct. 13, starting at 10 a.m. PDT.

Sparks is a popular and prolific author with more than a dozen novels to his name, the latest of which, "The Best of Me," hits shelves Oct. 11. His previous titles include "The Notebook," "A Walk to Remember," "Dear John" and "The Last Song." The upcoming adaptation of "The Lucky One," starring Zac Efron as a Marine trying to find a mystery woman who he believes was his good luck charm during the war in Iraq, is Sparks' seventh book to be made into a movie.

Warner Bros. has also bought film rights to "The Best of Me," a tear-inducing tale of former high school sweethearts who reunite 25 years later. Sparks is co-producing the movie with Denise DiNovi, who produced "The Lucky One," and filming is scheduled to start in 2012.

To schedule a reminder for the chat, just fill out the form below. And be sure to join us Thursday.


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— Noelene Clark

Photo: Nicholas Sparks in 2010. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times.

Zac Efron, Jackie Kennedy and a Swedish phenomenon get linked

September 30, 2010 |  5:19 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Two of the hotter Hollywood stories of 2010, at least on the creative side, are coming together.

"Snabba Cash," the Zac Efron-starring remake of the Swedish crime drama that we told you about last March, is getting a writer with some significant buzz of his own. The scribe in question: Noah Oppenheim, who's coming on to write the script for the Warner Bros. film project.

Oppenheim is the former producer of "Today" who received Steven Spielberg's seal of approval when the A-lister expressed interest in producing Oppenheim's original story about Jackie Kennedy and her life in the days after the JFK assassination.

Rachel Weisz is now attached to star and Darren Aronofsky to direct that first lady tale, "Jackie," which should give Oppenheim plenty of heat on his own.

The addition of a writer to the English-language "Snabba Cash" is good news for fans of Daniel Espinosa's original, as well as devotees of arty Swedish genre tales (and thanks to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," there are plenty). But mostly it's good news for anyone who wants to see Efron play a coke runner, because it means we're now one step closer to that once-impossible dream.

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Zac Efron at the Australian premiere of 'Charlie St. Cloud.' Credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.


Studios seek to snag Swedish sizzler 'Snabba'

A Jackie Kennedy movie, courtesy of Steven Spielberg

Zac Efron's halting reinvention

Zac Efron's (halting) reinvention

August 2, 2010 | 11:38 am

Zac There's a piquant irony in Zac Efron backing out of "Footloose" because he didn't want to be the "High School Musical" guy -- and then having the movie he chose to do draw mainly from the "High School Musical" set.

Efron's soapy "Charlie St. Cloud" grossed just $12.1 million this weekend, largely because of goodwill from tweens and teens who like Efron from his Troy Bolton days, according to box-office experts. Showing less goodwill were critics, who collectively gave the tearjerky story of a lovelorn man conjuring up memories of his late brother a mere 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, and used such descriptors as "unintentionally hilarious" (the New York Post, Lou Lumenick).

But in an interview with my colleague Amy Kaufman, Efron said he felt confident that acting in a serious drama would help him move into the next phase of his career.

"I was looking at 'Footloose' and how great it would be, and every person you talk to is like, 'That's a great move. That's exactly what we would expect from you,' " he said, pouring himself some tea last month. "And after you hear that a few times, you kind of just go, 'I have to look myself in the face.' I wanted to slow down and do something challenging for the right reasons — not for the money or notoriety or for more fame or to be the king of genre."

Compared to singing and dancing through homeroom, the movie represents an evolution, but only the way going from an amoeba to a paramecium might be considered an evolution.

The shaky reviews might suggest Efron should stick with the tween roles as long as he can eke them out. But it's clear he wants more, and it's also clear he has at least a little more talent than this (it was even clear in "17 Again"). And yet he continues with the maudlin teen fare, a point underscored last week when it was revealed he was attached to "The Lucky One," the latest Nicholas Sparks Kleenex-puller.  While superficially a more dramatic role, the project smells of the same saturated schmaltz of "High School Musical," only in non-singing form.

The simple answer to this conundrum -- assuming he wants to solve it -- is for Efron to choose better material, though of course that presumes it's there to be chosen. "St. Cloud" came about because it was the most adult option in a sea of kiddie choices. Those options may be expanding a little for Efron now, especially as he gets his production company going and studio Warner Bros. redoubles its efforts to keep him happy. The studio recently optioned remake rights to the Swedish hit "Snabba Cash," a movie about an ingénue drug dealer that's as much character piece as action thriller. So he at least should have a few more choices over the coming years.

There's a silver lining in the failure of "Charlie St. Cloud";  you could look at the results and infer that audiences don't want to see Efron as a vulnerable heartthrob. It's an open question, though, whether we want to see him as something else.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Zac Efron. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times.

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Preview review: Zac Efron drops the song-and-dance in 'Charlie St. Cloud'

May 18, 2010 | 10:57 am

Charlie_st_cloud05 It's no secret that Zac Efron has long been eager to shed his squeaky-clean "High School Musical" image. Last year the young actor dropped out of a planned "Footloose" remake so he could devote his time to more serious acting endeavors.

One of those projects was "Charlie St. Cloud," which will be released July 30 and marks Efron's debut as a dramatic leading man.

But like with Miley Cyrus' move in the Nicholas Sparks-penned drama "The Last Song," Efron too seems to be jumping from cheesy kids TV to cheesy "adult" film.

The premise of the movie itself is relatively Sparks-esque. After high school senior Charlie (Efron) suffers the loss of his younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) in a car accident, he struggles to overcome his grief. Before Sam's death, Charlie promised the young boy he'd teach him how to play baseball before heading off to Stanford. So he slowly begins encountering and interacting with Sam's ghost -- but that only jeopardizes his budding romance with Tess (Amanda Crew), one of his old high school classmates whom he's begun to fall for.

The trailer makes a valiant effort to show off Efron as a heartthrob for his legion of adoring young fans. Only seconds in, the actor's muscular arms are center stage as he pulls the ropes of a sailboat on the sun-dappled open sea with his brother. From our limited view, we'll admit that Efron doesn't seem totally horrible in the role -- the relationship his character has with his younger brother is endearing, and we're sure the movie is a bona fide tear-jerker. But at points in the trailer, doesn't it seem like Efron is straining to seem brooding and pensive in an effort to get some "real" emotion up on screen?

But who are we kidding? The movie may look a tad saccharine, but we'd totally take our mom to see it this summer. Would you?

-- Amy Kaufman (Twitter.com/AmyKinLA)

Photo: Zac Efron stars in "Charlie St. Cloud." Credit: Universal Pictures

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

Peter Sollett will run away; Zac Efron snags the 'Cash'

April 14, 2010 |  7:19 pm

Two juicy pending deals moved forward in Hollywood in the past few days.Well, a few other deals did too, but we'll tell you about these -- one involving Zac Efron, which we'd previously told you about, and another involving director Peter Sollett, which we hadn't.

Runaw The first concerns Sollett coming on to direct "Runaways" for Marvel Studios. Deadline.com first broke the news that the director of "Raising Victor Vargas" had been negotiating to take the gig. That deal is now closed, we've learned, and Sollett (who also sat behind the camera for "Nick 'n Norah's Infinite Playlist") will take the reins for the story about a group of teenage superheroes who run away from home when they learn their parents are using their own power for evil.

The news is a heartwarming indie tale of sorts, showing that Sollett can grow into the big tentpole jobs in the same way that Chris Nolan and others have in recent years.

The second piece of news involves "Snabba Cash," the hot Swedish crime movie that we first reported a couple weeks back was set to go to Warner Bros. for Zac Efron to produce as a starring vehicle. That one's closed now as well, and Efron will take on the story about a taxi driver who becomes a runner for a coke dealer. Troy Bolton's all grown up too.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo credit: Marvel Comics

Smells like tween spirit: Miley Cyrus and Channing Tatum at the Oscars

March 2, 2010 | 12:42 pm

A new crop of Oscar presenters were announced Tuesday by the show's producers, a group that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Pine, Gerard Butler and Sam Worthington.

Miley There have been several points that one can infer from the growing list of celebrities set to appear on the Bill Mechanic- and Adam Shankman-produced show.

Organizers obviously are looking to strike a balance between the serious (Kate Winslet, Pedro Almodovar) and the youth-baiting (Taylor Lautner, Channing Tatum and Zac Efron, the latter two of whom have starred in Shankman-produced films). Despite the presence of some tween pin-ups, Shankman told my colleague Amy Kaufman, in a story set to be published in Wednesday's edition of The Envelope, that he could have pushed the Disney Channel angle a lot further.

"The biggest requests I get on Twitter -- and I’m not kidding, I’m still getting these daily -- are requests for Ashley Tisdale and Hilary Duff and Adam Lambert singing 'Time for Miracles.' And I was like, you know, you just have to sort of ignore that. Because those are not people in the movie business.”

What's particularly interesting about today's batch of presenters is not the youth but how many of them have something new to flog. Previously announced presenters who have movies coming out in the coming months include Steve Carell ("Dinner for Schmucks," "Date Night"), Robert Downey Jr. ("Iron Man 2," "Due Date"), and Miley Cyrus ("Last Song").

The new crop is even more marketing-ready: Stars like Gyllenhaal ("Prince of Persia"), Pine ("Unstoppable") and Butler ("The Bounty Hunter") all have movies set to be released this year. A few have multiple pictures, like Sam Worthington ("Clash of the Titans," "Last Night" and "The Debt").

The Oscars have always (but increasingly in recent years) tried to indulge the impulse for historical seriousness as well as the crowd-pleasing popcorn (well, the Oscar version). And producers of the show are often in a no-win situation: If they ignore the pop they're accused of being out of touch; if they embrace it, they're charged with pandering.

Still, the abundance of both young stars and actors with something to promote -- and not necessarily movies that will sweep voters off their feet -- makes us wonder if this will be the kind of year when the show tips a little more promotional than reverential (and further arouses the question of how much of that will be by the design of Mechanic and Shankman). Mechanic, for his part, at least nods to the demographic aspect. “The younger side of the audience has been drifting for years, so we’re more conscious of trying to build a youth element into the show," he told Kaufman.

We also wonder if all of this might make us yearn for a moment in the 2008 ceremony, when Jon Stewart offered an insider quip about stars' tendency to promote movies -- and then subverted it. "According to IMDB," Stewart said, "our next presenter is the star of 2010 Untitled Nicole Kidman project.'"

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Miley Cyrus. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times


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