Dear Joseph Farulla, Makeup Artist for Mr. Efron,
You ever wonder why someone like Zac Efron has a hard time shaking his “pretty-boy” reputation? No? No guesses? Let me give you a hint. See there’s a certain class of male Hollywood A-lister that decides he needs to have his very own dedicated make-up artist. Leonardo Dicaprio. Tom Cruise. Bradley Cooper. Brad Pitt. Despite not requiring any prostheses or aging effects (to look older, anyway), in 2013 these men refused to risk the acting trailer’s roulette make-up chair. Some of them have earned that luxury, I suppose. “Mr. Efron” has not. But the fact he still hired you for a performance that’s trying to make him seem like “just one of the guys” crystallizes everything that’s wrong with That Awkward Moment.
Let me explain.
For most men, imperfections are what endear to our onscreen heroes: Bill Murray’s pockmarks, Bruce Willis’ hairline, Christian Bale’s eye wart (warning: if you haven’t noticed that one yet, it henceforth can ever be unseen). This un-airbrushed reality acts like a subliminal reassurance that our boyish crushes are based purely on strength of character. We’re shallow and insecure creatures, after all, and wouldn’t want our affections to be mistaken for anything other than platonic. So in a movie about an extreme three-way bromance, these types of insights matter. We don’t have a friend like Zac Efron, and we don’t want a friend like Zac Efron. Miles Teller? Maybe. Michael B. Jordan? We should be so lucky.
And no, I’m no longer talking about looks.
It’s not fair to conflate characters and performers, but a romantic comedy like this isn’t asking anyone to “act” so much as “do your thing”. So Jason (Efron) is a witless womanizer and impossibly good looking. Daniel (Teller) is a wise-cracking wingman and professional sidekick. Mikey (Jordan) is accomplished, easy-going and earnest. They all dress extremely well, live in beautiful brick lofts and do their best to play a male Sex in the City trio. Then, upon Mikey’s wife leaving him, they make a bros-before-hoes pact that Efron’s character unreasonably treats like a holy covenant. Everything that happens next is an embarrassingly lazy one-conversation-would-clear-everything-up “drama”, spaced between some comedic set pieces. Including a toilet scene. The real reason you were hired, I presume.
Which makes me think: maybe we men shouldn’t be so harsh on Efron. I mean, like DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, Efron really “put himself out there” in this film, giving a “brave” ass-featuring fully nude profile shot (sans candle). I couldn’t look long, lest I compromise my fragile heterosexuality, but even at a glance this chiseled Adonis was glistening to perfection. Yes, despite the fact he was trying to hide a Viagra-induced erection in toilet. So what’s my beef, you ask? Only that instead of the moment being truly self-deprecating, funny and/or vulnerable, Efron turned the scene into what’s bound to be the most downloaded screensaver of the year. Unlike his High School Musical co-star and former fling Vanessa Hudgens, Efron’s just not ready go on his perfect Disney persona yet. And this is after getting last year.
No, I’m afraid there’s just no saving the boy. Or his movies.
Status: Return to Sender (2/5)