Me and Orson Welles (2009)

Starring: Zac Efron, Christian Mackay, Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin, Zoe Kazan, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, James Tupper

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Zac Efron and Claire Danes in Me and Orson Welles

Me and Orson Welles is teen heartthrob Zac Efron's first essay into grown up acting. Hence he swaps his usual role of all-singing, all-dancing cheeky chappie teenager who plays basketball for the challenging part of an all-singing, all-dancing cheeky chappie teenager who doesn't play basketball. Way to avoid that typecasting, Zac – no wonder you turned down that Footloose remake…

If you've seen Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, you'll know what happens in Me and Orson Welles, because the stories are practically identical. A naïve young lad with stars in his eyes finds himself flukily catapulted into a glamorous adult world he's always dreamed of entering. He falls under the spell of a charismatic older mentor and falls in love with a completely unsuitable older woman, before discovering that beneath the glitz and hedonism lies a harsh, selfish ruthlessness, and that the idols he's placed high on pedestals have size twelve feet of clay.

Christian McKay is the legendary director in Me and Orson Welles

In this case, the older mentor is not a rock star but the actor, director, writer and all round egocentric, loud-mouthed genius Orson Welles, played in an Oscar-worthy turn by unknown English actor Christian McKay.

And herein we kinda have the problem. Because, as you'd hope McKay's Welles is so mesmerising, magnetic and believable that he wipes everyone else off the screen, including Efron, whose story we're meant to be following. In fact, we don't much care what happens to our hero (he's young, he's handsome: he'll fall on his feet) and would much rather find out what happens to the complicated, multi-faceted, brilliant Orson (did this acclaimed legend really end up narrating Manowar songs? Oh dear).

And while Efron can carry a lightweight comedy like 17 Again with the ease of Hercules, when he's put next to proper actors, he doesn't stand up too well. Like his character, Richard, he's out of his depth, and soon discovers that charm and a pretty face can only get you so far (although a wet T-shirt moment is always a good idea…)

Zac Efron as Richard Samuels and Christian McKay as Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles

He's also just too darned good looking and confident to play a starstruck youth on the brink of adulthood – someone with a bit more gawky nervousness, a Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg, would have been for more convincing.

But that aside, Me and Orson Welles is still a lovely movie: warm, witty, engaging and uplifting, filled with marvellous period detail and homages to the great director's style. And of course McKay's Welles is simply ummissable, definitely up there with Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote. If you liked Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, Mrs Henderson Presents or Almost Famous, or if you're at all a fan of Orson Welles, this is certainly one to watch.

As for Zac Efron, well, maybe they'll remake Grease

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