Several of us got a chance to see Me and Orson Welles this last year at SXSW. The festival smartly scheduled it as a “mystery screening,” and nobody knew what we were seeing until we were standing in line to see it. There were quite a few gasps of horror when we realized it was a movie starring Zac Efron, but then when we heard it was also directed by Richard Linklater, well, we were confused. We didn’t know what to think. No one had given us a pre-formatted opinion for a movie directed by an indie legend and starring a Disney sex robot. A few people in line had seizures. Then someone said that Claire Danes was in it, and we were like: Yay! “My So-Called Life.” Stardust. But wait a second: Brokedown Palace and Terminator 3. Oh Noes! How will our brains ever process this?
And then we remembered the hipster way! When all else fails, always opt for cynical detachment. We can forgive ourselves for admitting that Richard Linklater had a misstep, but think of all the people who will laugh at us if we admit to enjoying a Zac Efron movie. Unless! Unless we enjoyed it ironically! Yeah! That’s it.
Oh, fuck it all.
Turns out, when we actually sat down to see the movie, that Me and Orson Welles, was pretty goddamn fantastic. Not perfect, but really solid. It was enchanting. And exuberant. And a lot of fun. Also: Zac Efron was pretty good, although the guy who plays Orson Welles, Christian McKay, will blow your mind. He is the bee’s meow, people. For real.
The teaser trailer doesn’t do it justice, but it might help you, ever so slightly, to warm up to the idea of Zac Efron in a role where he doesn’t embarrass himself.