(Photo by Diyah Pera/©Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
Zac Efron was the prince of the late-2000s musical with the Certified Fresh Hairspray and, of course, the High School Musical franchise, which by its third and final entry had graduated from the TV space and into a full-fledged theatrical experience. Senior Year and Hairspray were big money makers, and so was Efron’s first post-High School movie, 17 Again. Critics were just on the edge of giving it a Fresh rating, but the transformation comedy certainly appealed to his fan base, and set Efron up for a future as lead man in films.
After getting the requisite Nicholas Sparks adaptation out of the way (The Lucky One), Efron spent several years building up a dramatic resume, though only Richard Linklater’s Me and Orson Welles connected with critics. After the surprise box office success of the Certified Fresh Neighbors, Efron found a new career tack in raunch comedies, letting loose in the likes of Dirty Grandpa, Baywatch, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and The Beach Bum.
Efron starred in 2019’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a Ted Bundy biopic that coincided with the 30th anniversary of his execution. And Efron returned in 2020 on a much lighter note, voicing the ascot-less Fred in Scoob!, the latest in the venerable Scooby-Doo franchise. Jinkies! Now it’s time to look back on all Zac Efron movies, ranked by Tomatometer!
You’re in for some sweet, sweet movie watching this week, starting with the latest in bromantic comedies (I Love You, Man, starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel). Those with a High School Musical fetish should check out Zac Efron’s more grown-up vehicle (17 Again), while you twee cineastes have a new reason to worship Zooey Deschanel (Gigantic, also starring Paul Dano). Go European with a few highly rated imports (Oscar nominee The Class; Paris 36; London to Brighton) or go lowbrow with a direct-to-DVD college comedy sequel (Road Trip: Beer Pong). Lastly, check out everyone’s favorite heroes on a half-shell (the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 25th Anniversary set) and a few sci-fi throwbacks (the retro spoof Alien Trespass; Starman on Blu-ray).
Paul Rudd and Jason Segel (who last co-starred in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall) team up again in this romantic comedy of sorts about a super nice girls’ guy (Rudd) on a desperate search for a best man who finds an unlikely BFF in a carefree bohemian bachelor (Segel). Naturally, the odd couple bond over poop jokes, the music of Rush, and plenty of Apatow-styled comedy (minus the actual involvement, and some argue, the edginess, of Judd Apatow himself). This Certified Fresh valentine to the bromance — the unabashed man-love between two or more straight men — comes to DVD with even more laughs, thanks to a wealth of additional footage that includes alternate take after take of ad-libbed lines and a particularly cozy commentary track with Rudd, Segel, and director/co-writer John Hamburg (pictured in the exclusive snapshot above recording the DVD commentary on a special man-date in Hollywood). Watch an exclusive deleted scene below!
Next: Zac Efron grows up (and Matthew Perry gets younger) in 17 Again
Disney star Zac Efron continues to transition out of the ‘tween niche with 17 Again, his first starring vehicle after hitting stardom as the singing jock in the High School Musical films (a supporting role in Hairspray earned kudos, as did the forthcoming Me and Orson Welles, which was directed by Richard Linklater and debuted at the Toronto Film Festival). In 17 Again, an unhappy former basketball star (played in middle age by Matthew Perry, who we hope Efron doesn’t grow up to resemble) wishes his way back into his 17-year-old body (Efron) to relive the glorious high school life that he once had. The only catch? Save his grown-up geek of a best friend (Thomas Lennon), nobody knows who he really is, including his estranged wife (Leslie Mann) and his two teenage children. Truth be told, the formulaic fantasy wasn’t as bad as some critics feared, thanks in great part to Efron’s winning charm, resulting in a Tomatometer rating just shy of Fresh. For a handful of Zac-tastic bonus features (including a commentary track with Efron available on BD-Live, OMG) you’ll have to pick up 17 Again on Blu-ray.
Next: Zooey Deschanel as Paul Dano’s manic pixie dream girl
Anyone already tired of the Zooey Deschanel Manic Pixie Romance Film (see: Elf, (500) Days of Summer, Yes Man, The Go-Getter, etc.) should go ahead and skip this one on principle, seeing as Deschanel plays a beautiful, quirky love interest yet again — and what’s more, her character’s name is “Happy.” All others will find that Gigantic is on quirky indie overload, from its plot (28-year-old man-child mattress salesman adopts Chinese orphan baby) to its supporting cast (John Goodman as Happy’s millionaire father, Ed Asner as a mushroom-hunting senior citizen). Only a few extra scenes have been included, making for a fairly sparse DVD menu.
Next: France’s Oscar nominee, The Class
One of the best-reviewed films of last year, this French drama not only earned an impressive 97 percent Tomatometer (and Certified Fresh seal of approval), it also won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. Partially filmed documentary-style, The Class (AKA Entre les murs) follows an inner city teacher, played by Francois Begadueau (who wrote the original book from his own experiences) over the course of a year within the walls of a Parisian school where racially diverse students examine themselves and each other. Director Laurent Cantet cast an impressive group of non-actor teens, lending a natural energy to his film; their own self-portraits and actors’ workshop are a few of the fascinating extra features included in the release.
Next: Moulin Rouge-esque nostalgia in Paris 36
Moulin Rouge devotees might like this similarly-themed and -set musical comedy about a ragtag group of locals who attempt to restore a Parisian theater with a fantastic vaudeville show in 1936. Pure Francophiles are the target audience here, as the more bourgeois in taste might find the frothy proceedings too light and whimsical for their liking, and the multi-strand plot altogether too jumbled. However, if you’re in the mood for an unapologetically nostalgic fantasy filled with fabulous costuming, intricate musical numbers, and Amelie-like adornments (and who isn’t, really?), give Paris 36 a rental.
Next: The gritty, taut crime thriller London to Brighton
The titular train route is what two young prostitutes hope will take them away from trouble when a job goes horribly awry in Paul Andrew Williams’ directorial debut. Taut and grim (very grim, according to critics), this British crime thriller makes brutal use of cinematic realism, peeling back the layers to tell a story not just about two women on the run, but one about the sordid world of street kids and criminals on the hustle in England’s underworld. A making-of featurette, deleted scenes, director commentary and more highlight the special features.
Next: Road Trip gets a sequel in Beer Pong
Shockingly, it took nine years to get a sequel to the Breckin Meyer-Seann William Scott college comedy Road Trip (thanks, if you can call it that, go to Paramount Vantage for seizing the rights to make this long-awaited follow-up). With the sole exception of a cameo by Road Trip‘s DJ Squalls, Road Trip: Beer Pong assembles a new crew of college kids who hit the road for an adventure full of shenanigans, this time headed for the National Collegiate Beer Pong Championship. Personally, we’d rather rack up our own cups than watch some actors throw down (or watch these guys hit some impossible trick shots), although in real life, there are no “Bodacious Babes of Ta Tas” at our beer pong/Beirut tourneys. An unrated cut, bloopers, and a beer pong tutorial are just some of the illuminating special features in the release.
Next: Retro creatures featured in Alien Trespass
Conceived and presented as part homage, part spoof to the bygone creature features of the 1950s, Alien Trespass sets itself up as a “lost” film from the era, a conceit that it never quite surmounts. Boasting an “all-star” cast (headlined by Eric McCormack, Robert Patrick, and Dan Lauria), this faux-B movie alights on a desert town where an alien spacecraft crashes, releasing two passengers: a galactic police officer of sorts, and the fugitive monster who could destroy the entire planet. But the nostalgic charm wears off too soon, leaving stilted dialogue and inconsistent special effects and direction — what one might consider not just unintentionally campy, but altogether bad.
Next: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles complete film set!
Lovers of sewer-dwelling martial arts-mastering mutant turtles should jump at the chance to own all four of Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo’s feature films, released this week in a 25th Anniversary edition box set, but will they? Children of the ’80s (now full-fledged grown-ups) can capture a little bit of that bygone turtle power with 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (46 percent), the first live-action film to translate the pizza-loving heroes from animation to the big screen (as a bonus, you may delight in the fact that the Blu-ray set discs are presented in the form of different kinds of pizza). One of our personal favorites, however, was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze (36 percent), and yes, it is because of Vanilla Ice’s Ninja Rap. Perhaps we can all agree to give a pass to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (32 percent), because no sequel ever goes to Japan and succeeds (as the Bad News Bears and the 3 Ninjas can attest). Rounding out the collection is the 2007 animated update TMNT (33 percent).
Unfortunately, the only advantage to picking up this TMNT set on either DVD or Blu-ray is the additional promo swag included in each set (temporary tattoos and bandannas in the DVD set, collectible cards, a Kevin Eastman-signed sketch and beanie in the Blu-ray box). Cowabungle, dude.
Next: John Carpenter’s Starman hits Blu-ray!
After directing such genre classics as Halloween, Escape from New York, and The Thing, John Carpenter turned his attention to a much gentler kind of science fiction; the result was 1984’s Starman, a fish-out-of-water tale about an alien (Jeff Bridges) who mimics the form of a grieving widow’s (Karen Allen) late husband and kidnaps/asks her to drive him cross-country to a homebound rendezvous ship. Although the 1980s-era special effects seem a bit dated (exception: Bridges’ shape-shifting transformation from infant human form to grown man in the span of a minute is still as creepy as ever), and its dialogue is frequently corny, Starman looks great in HD and is a worthy addition to your sci-fi geek Blu-ray collection. (Sadly, there are zero bonus features on the disc.)
Until next week, happy renting!
This week, The Rotten Tomatoes Show will be looking at the movies that opened
over the weekend, with help from you (the Rotten Tomatoes community), the
Current TV community, and the viewers of the show. The cutoff for webcam reviews
has already passed (midnight on Sunday), but the good news is that you can still
contribute your Three-Word Reviews for this past weekend’s box office Top 5
(including the new openers 17 Again and State of Play) or your Haiku Reviews of new DVD releases (The
Wrestler and Frost/Nixon). In order to submit 3-Word reviews, click here, and to offer your beautiful Haikus, click here.
Otherwise, be sure to tune in to our show this Thursday (10:30pm on Current TV), and if you missed the last episode, you can either download the podcast on iTunes or watch it here:
This weekend Zac Efron scored his second number one opener in six months as his non-musical high school comedy 17 Again debuted powerfully in the top spot to lead the North American box office to another impressive year-over-year gain. Russell Crowe‘s murder thriller State of Play bowed in second place while Jason Statham‘s action sequel Crank High Voltage limped to a weak sixth place opening.
Efron proved that he could draw a sizable crowd of paying customers outside of his safe Disney zone with 17 Again which premiered with an estimated $24.1M winning this weekend’s box office race by a wide $10M margin. The PG-13 film about a thirtysomething dad who transforms back to a teenage kid averaged a very solid $7,393 from 3,255 locations. Teens and young adults turned out in strong numbers and the teen heartthrob’s large fan base certainly followed their superstar into new territory. Efron’s High School Musical 3 carried a G rating while the musical Hairspray in which he had a supporting role was rated PG. And with 17 Again not being based on a property with a built-in audience, it proved that Efron can certainly open a film on his own when starring in the right type of project. For Warner Bros., it was the studio’s industry-leading fifth number one opener of 2009. No other distributor has more than two this year.
Landing in second with a decent showing was the conspiracy thriller State of Play which took in an estimated $14.1M from 2,803 theaters. Averaging a commendable $5,030 per site, the PG-13 film stars Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, Robin Wright Penn, and Rachel McAdams. Reviews were solid for the Universal release which played to a mature crowd not being served by all the younger-skewing pics in the marketplace. According to studio research, State‘s audience was 55% female and 75% over 35.
Three hit holdovers followed with estimates between $12-13M. Final grosses to be reported on Monday could see chart positions change.
Paramount and DreamWorks claimed third place with the animated blockbuster Monsters vs. Aliens which became the top-grossing movie of 2009. The comic actioner grossed an estimated $12.9M falling 41% in its fourth frame to boost the cume to a stellar $162.7M. Monsters also surpassed the $154.5M of last spring’s Horton Hears a Who which was the top grosser during the first four months of 2008. Monsters vs. Aliens is now on course to become the third biggest non-Shrek toon in DreamWorks history after last summer’s Kung Fu Panda ($215.4M) and 2005’s Madagascar ($193.2M).
Disney’s Hannah Montana: The Movie was close behind with an estimated $12.7M representing a steep 61% crumble in the second weekend. A large fall was expected but the sophomore slide was a bit less than those for last year’s Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds and High School Musical 3 which were 67% and 64%, respectively. The new Hannah has banked an impressive $56.1M in ten days and could reach $80M by the end of its run.
Fast & Furious took in an estimated $12.3M, falling 55% in its third lap, and boosted its 17-day take to a strong $136.7M. Universal’s hit sequel ruled the international box office again grossing an estimated $36M this weekend from 59 territories including powerful top spot bows in Australia, Italy, and China. Total is now $145M offshore and $281.7M worldwide easily making it the highest-grossing installment of the series globally. The Furious franchise has now raced to a stunning $881M worldwide across four films.
Five Jason Statham action films in 15 months seemed to be too much for fans to handle as the actor’s latest effort Crank High Voltage stumbled with an estimated $6.5M debut putting it in sixth place. The R-rated Lionsgate sequel averaged a not-so-heartpumping $2,928 from 2,223 locations. The opening not only was weaker than the bow of 2006’s Crank ($10.5M, $4,158 average) but it also fell sharply from the debuts of Statham’s last two films Death Race ($12.6M, $4,985 average) and Transporter 3 ($12.1M, $4,594 average).
Suffering the worst drop of any film in the top ten was Seth Rogen’s latest comedy Observe and Report which tumbled 63% to an estimated $4.1M. Moviegoers could be getting too much of this star as well. The Warner Bros. release has collected $18.7M in ten days and should finish in the vicinity of $25M. The Nicolas Cage actioner Knowing followed with an estimated $3.5M, off 46%, pushing the total to $73.7M for Summit making it one of the top ten highest-grossing new releases of the year.
Two more hits rounded out the top ten. Paramount’s Paul Rudd comedy I Love You, Man dropped 46% to an estimated $3.4M putting the cume at $64.7M. The fright flick The Haunting in Connecticut grossed an estimated $3.2M, down 47%, and lifted its sum to $51.9M for Lionsgate.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $96.6M which was up 21% from last year when The Forbidden Kingdom opened in the top spot with $21.4M; and up 40% from 2007 when Disturbia stayed at number one with $13M.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a high school do-over (17 Again, starring Zac Efron and Leslie Mann), some journalistic thrills (State of Play, starring Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams), and cardiovascular action (Crank High Voltage, starring Jason Statham and Bai Ling). What do the critics have to say?
If you’ve seen Big, Back to the Future, and Peggy Sue Got Married, you’ll have a pretty good idea what’s in store with 17 Again. The good news? The critics say the film may be derivative, but it’s also clever, entertaining, and poignant, largely thanks to an impressive post-High School Musical turn from Zac Efron. He stars as Mike O’Donnell, a big man on campus circa 1989 who, 20 years later, finds his life and his marriage to high school sweetie Scarlett (Leslie Mann) on the rocks. He gets a second chance to correct his mistakes when he’s magically transformed into his 17-year-old self — albeit with his late-30s personality intact — and discovers a thing or two about life. While some critics find the film’s premise a bit unseemly (a 30-year-old bro-ing down with minors?), most say 17 Again is mostly sweet, funny, and perceptive, and that Efron has a bright future as a leading man.
The newspaper industry is in bad shape these days, so it almost seems quaint to release a thriller about a principled investigative journalist in the midst of a vast conspiracy. But here’s a news flash: critics say State of Play is engrossing, smart, unnerving, and surprisingly timely, a tribute to the hardworking reporters that shed light on our political system. Russell Crowe stars as old-school Washington beat reporter Cal McAffrey, who’s had a solid professional rapport with up-and-coming congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) — that is, until some of Collins’ associates turn up dead. McAffrey uneasily joins forces with Della (Rachel McAdams), a blogger at the paper, to untangle a sinister web of secrets and lies. The pundits say State of Play may offer a few too many twists and turns, but its ensemble, which also includes Helen Mirren as McAffrey’s exacting editor, is unimpeachable, as is the immediacy and authenticity of the newsroom setting. State of Play is Certified Fresh.
It appears the folks behind Crank High Voltage were concerned it would make critics, ahem, cranky, because it wasn’t screened prior to release (strange, since its predecessor notched a perfectly respectable 60 percent on the Tomatometer). Jason Statham once again stars as Chev Chelios (apparently no relation to the Red Wings defenseman) whose heart is removed; he must do everything in his power to keep his battery-powered ticker going while finding his missing organ. Kids, guess that Tomatometer! (And don’t forget to check out Crank star Bai Ling’s Five Favorite Films.)
Also opening this week in limited release:
Teen prince Zac Efron aims to score his second number one opener in six months, but this time without the help of an established franchise, with the new comedy 17 Again. Boldly entering racy PG-13 territory, the Disney-bred superstar plays a thirtysomething man who is transformed into the body of a teenager. Matthew Perry plays the bigger version of the character. The New Line film is being released by Warner Bros. which will target teens and young adults but is also hoping to court the younger tween fans of the young actor despite the rating.
17 Again is essentially for Efron what Mean Girls was for Lindsay Lohan five years ago – a more mature PG-13 vehicle for a Mouse House star trying to branch out into older storylines without abandoning the young base. The Tina Fey-penned pic, Lohan’s last hit film, bowed to a surprisingly strong $24.4M in late April of 2004 on its way to a stellar $86M. Opening a film headlined by a High School Musical star just one week after the release of a Hannah Montana film is risky business. But 17 hopes to steal away much of that audience anyway. Debuting in 3,255 theaters, 17 Again could capture around $19M this weekend.
Action fans love them some Jason Statham and the actor returns on Friday in the adrenaline-pumping sequel Crank High Voltage. The R-rated followup to 2006’s Crank finds the rugged hitman on a high-octane chase through Los Angeles in pursuit of a mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart. Certainly the audience is finite here and will not extend past Statham’s fan base of young men. Given the modest success of the first flick (Crank bowed to $10.5M and a $4,158 average in 2006), there is a built-in audience that caught the predecessor in theaters, on DVD, or on cable.
Lionsgate has marketed the new installment effectively generating interest with the target crowd. Fast & Furious will provide some direct competition even though it enters its third lap, but the rest of the current slate of films will not distract the audience. Statham crashed into multiplexes three times last year with The Bank Job ($5.9M in 1,603 theaters), Death Race ($12.6M in 2,532 locations), and Transporter 3 ($12.1M after a Wednesday launch in 2,626 sites). Casual fans may not want him again so soon. Bursting into 2,223 locations, Crank High Voltage could debut with about $12M this weekend.
Russell Crowe heads up the cast of the new political thriller State of Play starring alongside fellow Oscar winner Helen Mirren, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Robin Wright Penn. The PG-13 murder mystery involving politics and the media will play to a mature adult audience at a time when very few viable options are out there for that demo. Teen rockers, souped-up race cars, and cartoon monsters have been ruling the multiplexes for weeks. Even the two other new releases this weekend skew under-30. Reviews have been strong which will be essential as the Universal title will live or die by the opinions of critics.
Crowe may have been a box office draw at one time, but today his name means little. Moviegoers want to know what else the film has to offer and won’t buy a ticket just for him. Overall, the cast is somewhat valuable at the turnstiles, but there are no names here that carry a lot of box office weight. Look for a moderate bow followed by decent legs. Entering 2,803 theaters, State of Play may collect around $11M this weekend.
Following its sensational debut last weekend, Hannah Montana The Movie is set for a huge fall in its sophomore frame. Most of the audience rushed out upfront to see the teen sensation, plus the Good Friday holiday supersized the opening day tally so this Friday will be puny by comparison. In fact on a daily basis, Hannah only won the number one spot on Friday with Fast & Furious topping the chart on both Saturday and Sunday. Ms. Cyrus will also see Mr. Efron steal away younger teens so the extra competition will be a factor too. Sophomore drops last year for Hannah and High School Musical 3 were 67% and 64%, respectively, so expect a similar fate. A steep tumble of at least 60% should result giving the Disney hit about $13M boosting the ten-day cume to $57M.
By Friday, DreamWorks will see its animated smash Monsters vs. Aliens become the first movie of the year to break the $150M barrier. With no new G or PG pics entering the marketplace, a 35% drop may result giving the Paramount release roughly $14M for the frame and a $164M cume overall.
Fast & Furious already had its fierce second weekend slide so the racing sequel could stabilize a bit this weekend. Universal looks to experience a 55% decline which would put the Vin-Paul flick at around $12M pushing the 17-day tally to a turbo-charged $137M. Seth Rogen‘s Observe and Report got off to a lukewarm start last weekend and there is little buzz propelling the film forward. Look for a 45% drop to about $6M for a ten-day total of $21M.
LAST YEAR: Jackie Chan and Jet Li came to together at last and audiences came out pushing The Forbidden Kingdom to a top spot debut with $21.4M. The Lionsgate release finished off with a $52.1M total. Also debuting with strength was the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall which bowed to $17.7M for Universal on its way to a higher $62.9M. Sony’s horror hit Prom Night crumbled 58% in its sophomore session dropping from first to third with $8.7M. Al Pacino‘s crime drama 88 Minutes earned some of the year’s worst reviews and crashed into fourth with a poor $7M opening. Sony’s final gross was a mere $17.2M. Rounding out the top five was Fox’s Nim’s Island with $5.7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com