"17 Again" Goes Ka-ching! at the Box Office, But Does That Make Zac Efron a Movie Star Who Can Act?


The Queen is dead! Long live the King! Zac Efron has just killed Miley Cyrus! At the box office, I mean. Efron's 17 Again, a comedy devoid of comedy and originality (hello, Big!), hit No. 1 this weekend with a hefty take of $24 million. Zac zapped Miley's climb with Hannah Montana: The Movie, which tumbled 61 percent in its second weekend with $12 million and a fourth place finish. No smiles for Smiley Miley. Allow me to note that State of Play, a savvy political thriller which was predicted to tank on its debut, scored 2nd place with a respectable $14 million. Dare I hope for the future? Nah. I know it's a freak thing.

Back to Zac, the actor I mean. Even critics who puked all over the movie (that would be me, and I'm not alone) harbor a belief that Zac can act. I base my judgement on Hairspray and Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles, a still unreleased film in which Efron does his best work to date as a teen who comes up against the giant ego of Citizen Welles. Recently, on SNL, I also saw a deeper comic side to Efron than he's been able to reveal in High School Musical 1, 2, 3 and infinity. The skit about his graduated HSM character, Troy Bolton, returning to school to report on a cruel world that doesn't burst into song, was truly inspired. So today's question is: Can Zac Efron cut it as a star over the long haul (that means you can imagine him playing roles outside the box) or is he a tween dream getting close to his expiration date?

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Peter Travers

Rolling Stone senior writer Peter Travers has reviewed movies for the magazine for more than 20 years. Send your comments and questions to him here.

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