I Watched 22 Zac Efron Movies in 5 Weeks and I Have A Lot To Say

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Hello there! I’m Sarah, pop culture enthusiast and Zac Efron fan. I had eagerly been counting down the days until the release of the smash musical The Greatest Showman (seriously, just ask anyone who had a conversation with me from September 2017 to present day). I mean, a movie musical, with music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron has my name all over it!

Well, I saw The Greatest Showman the week it came out, and I was not disappointed! But, something unexpected happened—my love for Zac Efron re-emerged. I, like any other pre-teen, was in love with Zefron when High School Musical came out in 2006. But, somewhere along the way, my passionate love, faded to something a little tamer. I went from begging my mom to buy those teeny-bopper magazines with his face plastered all over them, to simply commenting on his Hugo Boss cologne ad I passed every time I went shopping in Kohl’s. However, as I left the movie theater, raving about Zac’s performance, I realized that I hadn’t really followed his post-17 Again career. I mean, I knew he was starring in a boatload of bro-comedies, but had watched any of them? Sadly, no. So, I decided to right this wrong.

I figured the best way to spend my last semester of college would be to make my way through Zac Efron’s entire filmography (all 24 films) over the course of five weeks in an event called Zefron-o-thon (That clever name was created by former Campus Celebrity, and my dear friend, Rachel).

The rules are simple. As I watched each film, I simply made observations on the film, and of course, Zefron. I also kept track of statistics such as “Number of Times He Sang in a Film,” “Number of Time He Cried,” “Number of Times I Cried,” and “Number of Films in Which He Appeared Shirtless.” Furthermore, to up the ante, and to ensure that this was not a complete waste of my time, I decided to see if I could knit a blanket during the duration of Zefron-o-thon. Let the games begin! 

First Up, 2014’s Neighbors.

Image from Giphy

Summary: A fraternity, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco, moves in next door to new parents, Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen.

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless: Yes

Singing: No

Dancing: Yes

Winking: Yes

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? No

I was totally expecting this film to be a bro-comedy. And while it was certainly filled with bawdy jokes and phallic sight gags, there was a deeper side to this film, something that I was not expecting. See, Efron’s character, Teddy, is in his last semester of college and is coping with having to leave college and enter the real world. And as someone who is in that same position right now, I felt a certain connection with Teddy (minus the crazy partying). Efron plays his role well. He perfectly channels the role of slacker college student and crazed fraternity president, but still highlights the human qualities of Teddy. Though this was the first film I watched, I felt that it was one of Efron’s stronger performances.

Even though I enjoyed Neighbors immensely, after bro-ing out, I realized I wouldn’t be able to watch all of his R-rated comedies in one go. Instead I would need to alternate between these more ~adult~ films and his soft, sweet classics. 

Next up was The Lucky One (2012).

Image from Giphy

Summary: Logan, a Marine returning from oversees, seeks out the woman who he believes was his “guardian angel” during his time oversees.

Shirtless: Extensively

Pantless: No

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking: No

Did he cry? Yes       

Did I cry? Almost

I’m not a fan of romance. Or Nicholas Sparks. So, I was expecting this one to be difficult to sit through. However, the first 40 minutes of this film mostly consisted of Zac Efron playing with dogs in the Louisiana sunshine while soft acoustic music played in the background, which is a brand I can get behind.

After that, things got crazy in the way only a Nicholas Sparks story can. Was this movie good? Ahh…not really, but I did enjoy it. Was this Zac Efron’s best performance ever? Again, not really. But, The Lucky One marks an important transition in his career. No longer was he playing a pert and youthful boy discovering truths about himself and the world; he was now a man—a fact illustrated by several passionate love scenes. The subject matter of the film also gave Efron more meat to work with than a simple “My dad won’t let me sing and I’m sad.”

So, while The Lucky One might be a forgettable blip in the wide range of his career, this film played an important role in the evolution of Zac Efron.

After seeing two different sides of Zac Efron, I decided that for the third night of Zefron-o-thon, I should take it back to the beginning. Back to where most of America fell in love with Zac Efron.

Image from Giphy

You can bet on it (Yes, I know this song wasn’t in the first movie). High School Musical (2006).

Summary: Troy (Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) meet at a karaoke night on vacation. After realizing that they will be attending the same high school, they decide to break free (pun intended) of their friend groups and explore their love of musical theatre, shattering expectations and discovering their true selves in the process.

Shirtless: Surprisingly, yes (quite saucy for Disney Channel)

Pantless: No

Singing: Sort of (Remember? It was famously revealed that Zac didn’t provide all of the vocals for the songs in the first HSM film. Actor-singer Drew Seeley sang instead.)

Dancing: Yes

Winking: No

Did he cry? No, but lots of longing, frustrated looks with those soulful blue eyes

Did I cry? No, but I felt extremely nostalgic

Before we get to the Zefron content, I think we need to discuss a few things.

First, regardless of how you view High School Musical, this film was extremely important to the lives of many young people. Not only does it have a great message about being yourself, but it also re-introduced musical theatre to millions of young people, including myself.

Second, can we talk about how impressive it was that the musical they are all auditioning for was written by Kelsi, a high school junior? As someone who was heavily involved with their high school theatre department, this does not seem like the most realistic of scenarios.

Third, this viewing of High School Musical introduced one of Zac Efron’s most popular character types: the young man who has dreams but is forced to put those dreams to the side to follow the dreams of his father. Pay attention, as this characterization will return in later films.

Fourth, wow! Baby Zac Efron. That hair; those eyes; I mean, who’s surprised he became America’s biggest crush. Looks aside, High School Musical is an interesting talking point. It’s far and away one of Disney Channel’s most successful projects, but did anyone know that this is the film that would catapult Zac Efron to stardom? As much as I love this film, watching it through a more critical lens, his performance does not make one inclined to say, “Wow! That kid has the acting chops to one day play Ted Bundy!” But, what High School Musical did showcase was Efron’s enthusiasm for acting, a trait that would lead him to release at least one movie a year since 2006.

Keeping with the musical theme, I decided to follow High School Musical with a viewing of Hairspray (2007). This time, I had some company, as two of my friends decided to join me.

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Summary: Teenager Tracy Turnblad lives out her dream as she dances on the Corny Collins show, promotes integration, and falls in love with Link Larkin.

Shirtless: No, but he wears some killer sweater sets

Pantless: No

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking: Yes (at least five times, but we lost count, mesmerized in his deep blue eyes)

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? I teared up a little bit at the end

“Lord, I have been instantly seduced!” is what one of my friends said the minute Zefron appeared on screen in Hairspray. This film, beloved by so many, is the moment we all knew Zac Efron would be a star. He has swagger and confidence that stops you in your tracks, yet he retains the charm that makes him so endearing. If his performance in High School Musical wasn’t enough to elevate him to legend status, Hairspray showed that he had the talent to have a long and lasting career.

One interesting thing to note, is his, shall we call it, character choice? Youthful exuberance? However you want to describe it, throughout much of this film, Zac Efron looks so surprised that he is in a movie. Everyone scene, he looks shocked. It’s almost as if he is just standing on set while the movie is happening. While this might seem like a distraction, it oddly works, and makes Hairspray (and his performance) an instant classic. 

After throwing it back for several films, it was now time for one of Zac Efron’s more recent films: Baywatch (2017).

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Summary: Mitch Buchanan (The Rock) protects the beach with the help of his lifeguard squad. Former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron) enters the picture and must learn what it takes to save the world from a criminal mastermind.

Shirtless: For what feels like half the movie

Pantless: Basically—I mean he wears a Speedo

Singing: No

Dancing: No

Winking: Yes

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? No

You know a movie is bad when not even Zac Efron can save it. And I don’t mean to be overdramatic, but Baywatch may be one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. Ok…that is a little unfair. There were some good moments in this film. If I had to pick some, it would be anytime The Rock and Zac Efron were on screen together. Their comedic timing was impeccable. I mean, I literally laughed out loud when The Rock called Zac Efron’s character ‘High School Musical.’

Even though this movie was quite honestly a disaster, there was one good thing; Zac Efron was really, really funny. His character, Brody, could be best described as a dunce. But Efron does a great job of attempting to flesh out the character. And I have to say, it works. Brody is a truly different character than any other character Zac Efron has played before. I also find the willingness Zac Efron has to make fun of himself incredibly admirable. Taking on roles like this may not help his resume, but they do show that he is a good sport.  And you know what they say…good things come to those who wait. All in all, Zac Efron’s performance (not his body) was the highlight of Baywatch. The Razzie nomination was undeserved in my opinion.

After watching five movies in five days (and the travesty that was Baywatch), I needed a breather. So, I took a 24-hour detox, and resumed Zefron-o-thon with a viewing of Charlie St. Cloud (2010).

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Summary: Charlie St. Cloud is a young man who gives up on his dream of racing sailboats to become a cemetery caretaker who plays catch with his little brother’s ghost. Oh…he also falls in love.

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless: No

Singing: No

Dancing: No

Winking: No

Did he cry? Uh…yes. So. Much. Crying.

Did I cry? Almost, but not quite.

My first thought after watching this movie was, “How had I never seen this before?” This is exactly the kind of thing I would have been into circa 2010. But in 2018, I don’t really know what to say.

Essentially, Charlie St. Cloud served the same function as The Lucky One: it showed that Zac Efron still has a charm that can appeal to tweenage girls but emphasizes the fact that he is a man that can handle serious drama. Unfortunately, I don’t think the film hit all of the right notes. All of the crying and emotional manipulation felt excessive, but once again (can you see a theme emerging?), Efron did a passable job with the material he was given. I will give the film points for having a twist almost as big as the one offered by Phantom Thread. I for one did not see that coming. Other than that, I don’t have much to say about Charlie St. Cloud.

After the waterworks that went along with Charlie St. Cloud, it was time to return to the bro-comedy genre and take a look at Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016).

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Summary: Brothers Mike and Dave Stangle are ordered to find respectable dates for their sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, the women that they find are quite possibly even more wild than Mike and Dave, and crazy antics ensue.

Shirtless: Yes (but only briefly)

Pantless: No

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking: Yes

Did he cry? Yes (almost as much as Charlie St. Cloud)

Did I cry? Yes

Who knew that I would cry during Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates? This is certainly a film that is full of nudity and outrageous plot points, but underneath all of that, there is a certain amount of heart. In this film Zac Efron plays Dave as a more “straight man” to Adam Devine’s loose cannon, Mike—a nice change of pace. Seeing Zac Efron in a role where he doesn’t play a flat-out moron (a la Neighbors) was really refreshing and proved that he can strike a balance between comedy and more serious works. So many of his scenes, especially those with Anna Kendrick, grounded the movie in reality and prevented it from becoming Baywatch level ridiculous.

And staying on the subject of Anna Kendrick, their chemistry was incredible. It wasn’t a steamy-hook-up-all-the-time chemistry, but rather a this-relationship-is-built-on-a-strong-foundation chemistry. I am so ready to see Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick work on more projects together in the future. Can I write a smart, yet funny, indie comedy in which they play a couple (who are of course struggling artists) living in New York City waiting for their dreams to come true? Because that’s a movie that I want to see. 

After watching so many films in which Zac Efron was ~the star~ I was interested in seeing him in more of an ensemble piece. That meant it was time to check out New Year’s Eve (2011).

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Summary: A look at the lives of New Yorkers on New Year’s Eve. The Zefron specific plot focuses on him trying to help Michelle Pfeiffer complete all of her resolutions before the clock strikes midnight.

Shirtless: No

Pantless: No

Singing: No

Dancing: Yes

Winking: No

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? Yes

Zac Efron was only in this film for a grand total of maybe 15 minutes, but I loved every moment he and Michelle Pfeiffer were on screen together. Even in their brief time together, they were able to tell a full story, complete with mistakes, redemption, and a happy ending. I also enjoyed watching Zac Efron take on a role where neither his looks, nor his romantic relationships, were the focus of his character’s story. And even though he had minimal time on screen, I would be thrilled to see Zac Efron take on more roles like this in the future.

Three other points of interest. One, I definitely cried a lot at this movie. Two, Seth Meyers also had a small role in this film (which I was totally here for). Three, Zac Efron comes alive in the dance scene during the credits of this film. It was a joy to watch and made me smile through the tears that were still streaming down my face.

After crying during two films, it was time to revisit the comedy of Seth Rogen and the character of Teddy Sanders. That meant it was time for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016).

Image from Giphy

Image from Giphy

Image from Giphy

Summary: A sequel to Neighbors. Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen are now trying to sell their house, only to have a sorority move in next door. Former adversary Zac Efron, is now their ally, helping them take down the sisters of Kappa Nu.

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  Basically

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking: No

Did he cry? Yes

Did I cry? Yes

So, at this point in Zefron-o-thon, I think we’ve established that weird things make me cry. I was certainly not expecting to cry during a Neighbors movie, but that whole “What is my purpose after I graduate college?” thing, combined with Teddy’s desire to be valued, had me in tears.

But on to the film itself. So often, sequels are never as good as the original, but this film seems to break that trend. New characters are introduced. Original characters develop, instead of remaining stagnant. Social commentary is made throughout. It’s a solid film.

One of the things I love about watching the Neighbors movies is that Seth Rogen and Zac Efron (along with the rest of the cast and crew) have clicked. They have chemistry and are able to strike a balance between showcasing Efron’s looks, but also his talent. Sure, there is a scene where they literally oil up his shirtless torso with a hot ham, but that scene is balanced by several scenes that allow Efron and Rogen to spar comedically, but also explore more serious issues. I don’t say this for many films, but I would gladly watch a Neighbors 3.

Now on to the film that provided the seed from which Zefron-o-thon grew, The Greatest Showman (2017).

GIF made by Sarah Shevenock

Summary: P.T. Barnum starts the circus. If you don’t know what this movie is, where have you been?

Shirtless: No

Pantless:  No

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking: No

Did he cry? His eyes get watery

Did I cry? Yes

Just like High School Musical and The Lucky One, The Greatest Showman marks a turning point in Zac Efron’s career. This is him returning to his musical roots, something every Zac Efron fan wanted to see. This film has been panned by critics, but audiences loved it. I myself, have seen this film several times and my love for it grows with each viewing.

While there are certainly some flaws with the film, Efron’s performance is flawless. He looks so comfortable in this role, one might wonder if it is a case of art imitating life. Just like Phillip Carlyle, Zac Efron is able to break free from the role that society and Hollywood has cast him in (a shirtless bro), to follow his dreams of once again starring in musicals. And while only Zac Efron can know if this is in fact true, seeing him in a musical made me realize why he is one of my favorite actors. It also made me wonder what would have happened if he starred in La La Land instead of Ryan Gosling. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

After seeing one of my new favorite movies, it was time to check out one of my favorite movies, and a Zac Efron classic. This is 17 Again (2009).

Image from Giphy

Image from Giphy

Summary: Thirty-seven-year-old Mike O’Donnell gets a chance to have his life over again when he becomes, you guessed it, 17 again!

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  No

Singing: No

Dancing: Yes

Winking: No

Did he cry? Yes

Did I cry? Yes

This movie is to our generation, what any John Hughes movie was to the previous generation. On the surface this is a classic teen movie, but it was for sure a strategic career move on his part. He got to take on a more adult role (he has kids!), but the film was still appropriate for a teen audience.

This film also showed his range in a very unique way. By playing an adult man, in a teenager’s body, he had the opportunity to showcase his mature side, his youthful side, and when these sides collide, his blossoming comedic chops. If I am being honest, 17 Again is probably in my top seven Zac Efron films.

After watching several *incredible* films, it was time for the film I was dreading most—Dirty Grandpa (2016).

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Summary: Zac Efron plays Jason, a serious lawyer, who goes on a road-trip with his, you guessed it, dirty grandpa, played by Robert De Niro.

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  Yes

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking:  Yes

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? Yes…tears of joy when this movie was finally over

I will be the first to admit. I am not a fan of crass movies. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed both Neighbors movies and Mike and Dave. But I just could not get into Dirty Grandpa. As I write this, I am trying to think of positive things to say, but the only thing I can think of is that Zac Efron wears nice sweaters?

In all seriousness, while this wasn’t a good movie, this was another example of how Efron can play a more serious character, even in a comedy. And I’m sure it was fun for Efron to work with Robert De Niro. At this point, it’s become quite obvious that I am struggling to find positive thing to say, so I think it’s best if we just move on to the next film, which is…

The Lorax (2012). Zac Efron’s only animated film!

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Summary: A young boy, Ted, learns about environmentalism as he embarks on a quest to find a tree to help him woo a girl, voiced by Taylor Swift.

This movie literally fulfilled none of the criteria, so I won’t even bother to list them.

If I’m being honest, this movie disturbed me on a number of levels. I had never read The Lorax as a child, so I had no idea how dismal the story was. Another thing that upset me was that there were original musical numbers in the film, but NEITHER ZAC EFRON NOR TAYLOR SWIFT SANG. That is all I have to say about The Lorax.

Ok…now we are getting down to business. While I loved revisiting High School Musical and Hairspray, as well as some of my other favorite films, if I’m being honest, That Awkward Moment (2014) was the film I was most excited for. It seemed to be the mark of yet another new chapter in Zac Efron's illustrious career. 

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Summary: Zac Efron plays Jason, one third of a trio of friends, who make a pact to stay single in New York City, despite each of them falling in love.

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  Yes

Singing: No

Dancing: Yes

Winking:  No

Did he cry? Yes

Did I cry? No

Wow. Of all of Zac Efron’s movies, this is the one that I had the most mixed feelings about. First of all, the gender politics of this film were incredibly off, and I did not care for the way women were portrayed in the film. I don’t know if it played that way because this was supposed to be a “bro-mantic” comedy, but it just felt skeevy at times. That being said…there were still parts of this movie that I really liked.

First, I just loved that it was set in New York. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love NYC, so this film gets a ton of points simply for its setting. Second, I was really into the relationship between Jason and Ellie. As problematic as it was, the ending was super cute, and I now want someone to get me a key to Gramercy Park. Third, I really loved all of the sweaters Zac Efron’s character wore.

(It is interesting to note that this was the first film Zac Efron starred in that was produced by his production company, Ninjas Runnin’ Wild Productions.)

Now, we move on to one of Zac Efron’s indie dramas—At Any Price (2012).

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Summary: Zac Efron stars as Dean Whipple, a young man who wants to race cars, but is forced by his father to take over the family seed business.

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  No

Singing: No

Dancing: Yes (with the old lady at the end)

Winking:  No

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? No

This film is another example of a role Zac Efron has oft been forced into: the young man straining against the expectations of his father. And while seeing Efron in this role, yet again, may cause some audience members to balk—I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

This film, although it was made first, reminded me of Hell or High Water (a film I adored). I liked the gritty, realistic feel of this film, and enjoyed seeing Zac Efron in a more grounded role. Instead of playing a character, I felt that he was finally playing a person. I firmly believe that this film is one of his best.

Next up was a Saturday double feature. First, High School Musical 2 (2007).

Image from Giphy

Image from Giphy

Summary: In the sequel to High School Musical, Troy and the gang get summer jobs at the country club! Singing and dancing ensue!

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  No

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking: Yes

Did he cry? Yes

Did I cry? No

I love the High School Musical franchise so much, so it’s hard for me to say bad things about the films. Thankfully, there is almost nothing wrong with High School Musical 2.

If anyone in 2007 was concerned about the longevity of Zac Efron’s career, all they had to do was watch this movie. He is on fire throughout. My favorite point of interest is his facial expressions. Even when he is silent on screen, he is stealing the show. Sharpay hits him with a ridiculous request—a confuzzled look, mixed with a tinge of fear in his eyes. Gabriella breaks up with him on that bridge—anguish, PURE ANGUISH I TELL YOU. Zac Efron isn’t just acting baby, he’s reacting.

We also have to remember that High School Musical 2 gave the iconic musical numbers that are Gotta Go My Own Way and, of course, Bet On It. Where would the movie musical be today without the genius direction of Kenny Ortega?

Next, High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008).

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Summary: The East High Wildcats are forced to confront their most difficult challenge yet—the future.

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  No

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking:  No

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? Sort of

Fun fact: I remember going to see this movie in theatres for my birthday. And I cried. Almost 10 years later, I got emotional watching this movie again.

First of all, this film is just ridiculously fun. The musical numbers are next level. Sharpay and Ryan’s dream sequence? The prom number? The Inception-esque hallway in “Scream?” Second of all, this film will resonate with you if you are a senior about to graduate, from either college or high school. You’ve got to love the emotional punch this film packs.

One thing that I found interesting was a note made by one of my friends. It appears on the outside that the High School Musical films are about everyone, but in reality, they are all about Zac Efron. His journey is the focus of all the films. He finds himself in the first one. He loses himself in the second one. And he determines his future in the third one. And honestly, if I had Zac Efron to build a franchise around, I would do the same thing.

A final point of note, is something that hasn’t been discussed yet; Zac Efron’s eyebrow acting. Much like his facial expressions in High School Musical 2, his eyebrows tell the story in this film, and future films (see: The Greatest Showman). The key is, that the arch or furrow of his brow never detracts from the rest of his performance, it only builds upon it.

Goodness gracious, High School Musical 3: Senior Year is a fantastic film. Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat! 

After saying good-bye to the sugary sweet DCOM years, it was time to take a look at one of Zac Efron’s darkest films to date: the 2012 noir, The Paperboy.

Image from Giphy

Image from Giphy

Summary: Zac Efron is a lackadaisical former swimmer who helps his journalist older brother free a murderer from prison to impress the murderer’s lover. (Wow, that’s a lot to unpack).

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  Yes

Singing: No

Dancing: Yes

Winking:  No

Did he cry? Yes

Did I cry? No

This film is divisive. Critically, it is considered to be one of Zac Efron’s better films. And he was good in the film. If he hadn’t shed his squeaky-clean Disney Channel image during one of his many hook-ups in The Lucky One, he for sure got rid of the Mouse Ears during a ~certain scene~ with Nicole Kidman.

I’m honestly still not quite sure how I feel about this film. There were some elements I really liked (the old noir feeling), but other elements confused me (did we ever get a real explanation as to why the entire film was told as a flashback?). Overall, I think the main purpose of this film was to see if Zac Efron could hold his own against Hollywood heavy hitters, like Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey. And lucky for us, he was.  

The next film on the docket was Parkland, the only film Zac Efron released in 2013.

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Summary: A look at what happened in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

Shirtless: No

Pantless:  No

Singing: No

Dancing: No

Winking:  No

Did he cry? Sort of

Did I cry? No

This review will be short, as Zefron’s time in the film was short. He plays a resident working at hospital, who is given the task of trying to save JFK’s life. What can I say other than that he carries his small part well. As I said when I watched New Year’s Eve, it is nice to see him in roles where what’s on/off his body is not the focus. It’s a shame that the indie dramas he has worked on, such as this one, have flown under the radar, because I think many people’s opinions about Zac Efron would change if they could see some of his more serious work. 

On Valentine’s Day, I decided to treat myself, and I watched another one of the films I was really excited about, 2015’s We Are Your Friends (aka WAYF).

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Summary: Zac Efron is Cole Carter, an up-and-coming DJ who just wants to know, “Are we ever going to be better than this?”

Shirtless: Yes

Pantless:  Yes

Singing: No

Dancing: Yes

Winking:  No

Did he cry? Sort of

Did I cry? Sort of 

How to describe this movie in one sentence…It’s like The Social Network. If The Social Network were a made for TV movie that aired on MTV between the hours of 11pm and 1am. That being said, I really did like this movie.

First, I loved the premise. While it has the typical trope of an up-and-coming artist following his dreams, it kind of turned the trope on its head, as the artist is an aspiring EDM DJ. I mean, this movie made me, a girl who listens mainly to Broadway Cast Albums and Taylor Swift, care about EDM music! Great job, WAYF!

Second, it was very clear throughout the film that director Max Joseph had a vision. The film had a goal, and while it can be debated whether or not the stylistic elements helped to achieve that goal, it was a treat to watch. The use of music throughout definitely made sections of the film feel like music videos held together by a thread of a narrative, and while that may seem like a criticism, I feel like that choice worked for the film.

With regards to Zac Efron’s performance, I think he did a great job with what he was given, but I wanted to see more. Throughout the film, Cole makes certain choices that make you wonder why he’s doing these things. Exploring his emotional backstory only could have helped this film, and Zac Efron totally could have handled some scenes of heavy drama.

On a personal note, this film has a special place in my heart because every time I would mention it to my mom, she would ask “Which one is this again?” I would reply, “Oh, it’s the movie where Zac Efron plays an EDM DJ.” And then, I would have to explain what EDM is to my mother, which made me laugh. Every. Single. Time.

As Zefron-o-thon was coming to a close, I decided to check out one of his earliest (I’m talking pre-High School Musical) films: The Derby Stallion (2005).

GIF made by Sarah Shevenock

Summary: Zac Efron’s dad wants him to be a baseball player, but he wants to be a steeplechase racer.

Shirtless: No

Pantless:  No

Singing: No

Dancing: No

Winking:  No

Did he cry? Yes

Did I cry? No

You know how you sometimes find old videos of yourself from middle school, and then feel really uncomfortable watching your awkward, pre-teen self? Watching this movie was like 98 minutes of that exact feeling.

I don’t really have much to say other than Zac Efron was adorable, and this movie felt like one of those morality films they would show you in middle school health class. In a way, this film might have been his audition tape for Charlie St. Cloud, as he cries excessively in both films.

As I started Me and Orson Welles (2009), there was a bittersweet feeling in the air, as this was the last full-length movie I had to watch. So, as I blinked away tears, I sat down to complete Zefron-o-thon.

Image from Giphy

Summary: Zac Efron is high school student who wants to be an actor. As he walks down the streets of 1930s New York City, he stumbles upon the opportunity of a lifetime—a chance to collaborate with Orson Welles at the Mercury Theatre.

Shirtless: No

Pantless:  No

Singing: Yes

Dancing: Yes

Winking: Yes

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? No

I will admit that I am partial to any movie musical that Zac Efron is in. However, Me and Orson Welles is up there with all the movie musicals.

If I had to describe Zac Efron’s performance in one word, it would be swoon-worthy. He oozes so much Old-Hollywood glamour (again, why wasn’t he in La La Land?). He has that star quality. He makes it impossible to tear your eyes away from the screen. Everyone seems to agree that High School Musical is the film that made Zac Efron a star, but Me and Orson Welles is the film that made him an actor.

Bonus: I have some thoughts on Liberal Arts (2012).

Image from Giphy

Summary: I’m not going to lie…I didn’t watch this full film. I only watched the seven minutes that featured Zac Efron. He plays a loveable stoner full of words of wisdom.

Shirtless: No

Pantless:  No

Singing: No

Dancing: Kind of

Winking:  Yes

Did he cry? No

Did I cry? No

I don’t have much I can say (since I didn’t watch the film) other than that I laughed a lot.

Infographic made by Sarah Shevenock 

What did I learn from watching 22 Zac Efron movies in five weeks? Well, for starters I learned that Zac Efron is more than just a pretty face. He is a talented actor with immense range. I am so unbelievably excited to see his upcoming projects slated for 2018, The Beach Bum and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, the latter being the one in which he plays Ted Bundy. I think these more serious roles will mark yet another transition in Zac Efron’s career—the start of the serious mainstream drama phase, which will hopefully be filled with booming box office numbers, critical acclaim, and major awards.

On a more personal note, Zefron-o-thon was a wonderful thing to do in my last semester of college. Not only was it fun, but it also brought me closer to my friends, and even helped me make some new ones. Thank you to anyone who watched a movie with me, or just listened to me share random facts about Zac Efron’s filmography over the past five weeks.

Oh, and if you were wondering—that blanket I was knitting? It’s about 2/5 of the way done. I just need Zac Efron to make about 30 more movies, so I can finish the blanket.

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Thumbnail Image from Wikimedia Commons