Zac Efron has made some high-quality movies lately. The Greatest Showman and The Disaster Artist were both Oscar-nominated, Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates and Neighbors were both legitimately funny comedies, and Baywatch was good for more than just a prime view of our favorite dreamboat's defined torso. It's almost enough to forget that between 2010 and 2016, Zac's ratio of decent films to truly upsetting ones was looking dire. Unlike Troy Bolton on the basketball court, Zac took a few L's in his filmography he probably didn't have to take. Now that he's officially back on track, it's time to take a walk of shame through Zac's worst movies roles. These are the Zac Efron films we wish we could forget... but watched anyway.
If this movie had been a Friends episode, it would have been called "The One Where Zac Efron Gets Peed On." Actually, that's how most people refer to this movie anyway. Fun fact, Nicole Kidman actually peed on Zac's face during the making of this film, which is reason enough to wish we had never seen it, but that's not even the worst thing that Zac does during the most painful 107 minutes of my life. The *worst* thing is when his character, a southern racist, calls a black character the n-word and ~really means it~. Even the copious amounts of shirtless scenes aren't enough to make this movie anything less than cringe.
Charlie St. Cloud was only an hour and a half long, but it felt like the longest movie I've ever seen, and I've watched The Lord Of The Rings. The plot is confusing but, more importantly, also extremely depressing. This was one of Zac's first post-High School Musical roles that were supposed to prove he could actually act, which he did do. He just happened to do it in a movie where his character has sex with a ghost in the forest à la Ke$ha in 2012, something that to this day makes no logistical sense.
Sony Pictures Classics
Another movie where Zac proved he could act, but at what cost? At Any Price is melodramatic at best, and the only thing that can make melodrama more ~dramatic~ is sticking it in the middle of a farm. The late American hero/film critic Roger Ebert might be the only person in the country that actually enjoyed this movie judging from Rotten Tomatoes' reviews, and the visuals of Zac as a racecar driver have been made at least 80% less hot by the existence of Arie Luyendyk Jr., who has ensured that racecar drivers will never be sexy again.
Warner Bros. Pictures
We all know someone who unironically loves these Love, Actually knock-offs. Fear them. In New Year's Day, Zac plays a deliveryman who falls for Michelle Pfeiffer, who was 30 years old than him then and is 30 years older than him now. Yet, somehow, it would be less creepy now. The worst part of Zac's chunk of this movie (because the rest of it is a whole other problem) is definitely his faux-hawk. Why ruin perfection with hair gel and fingerless gloves? This B-movie is so bad, it doesn't even fall into the "so bad, it's good" categorization. And, yes, I have seen it more than once.
We Are Your Friends should have been better, just on the merits of starring the two hottest people in the world, Zac and Emily Ratajkowski. This film gets points for its hilarious depiction of the San Fernando Valley, which was equal parts very spot-on and very, very wrong. It then loses points for getting the song "Desire" stuck in your head for four years, having the same plot as every other movie in existence, and being about a struggling DJ in the Valley. It might have been Zac's passion project, but that premise was never going to fly.
It's not Zac's fault that his first movie wasn't exactly one of his best. Unlike most of his truly tragic films (and we're not talking about plot, here), this movie was made long before he grew from adorable kid to walking set of abs, so there's basically no incentive to power through this weird, unrated indie drama. Funnily enough, it still suffers from a lot of the same issues a lot of Zac's more "serious" fare would struggle with later in his career, like a plot that's needlessly depressing. In Melinda's World, a happy kid learning about life suddenly gets a rude wake-up call that ruins everything she's ever known just in time for the movie to end. Skip it.
Exclusive Media Group
The world needed a movie where Zac plays a doctor. It did not, however, need a movie where Zac plays the doctor that tried to save John F. Kennedy. Super-hottie Tom Welling also stars as a Secret Service Agent, which doesn't hurt, but Parkland simply retreads a story that has been told a million times, with its only claim to fame being that it's grittier and darker than its better predecessors. Not sure a movie about the Kennedy assassination needed to be made more upsetting than it already is, but go off, I guess. Still, all it ends up doing is taking something poignant and making it monotonous.
We stan Zac's new mountain man persona. He really thrives when he's rappelling down the side of a mountain, exploring the wilderness on horseback, or teaching Nina Dobrev how to properly do oblique crunches. Zac's episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls was worth the watch because Zac's biceps have never looked better, and he was still in full boyishly handsome mode. The only reason we wish we had never seen it is all of the really gross stuff that we didn't need to see anyone do, let alone our high school celebrity crush. Sniffing a groundhog carcass? Not for me. Two men sharing one earthworm for lunch? Solid pass. Sleeping with a bottle of your own urine for warmth? Thank you, next.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile hasn't been released yet, but I already feel like I've seen it because of the sheer amount of stills and backstage photos the cast has released. From a cinematic standpoint, this movie could be great. From an ethical one, I have reservations. We have enough Ted Bundy media out there already without adding more fuel to the fire. Why are we making this sadistic killer into a celebrity again? The nation's Bundy fixation existed in a moral grey area the first time it happened and that was back when he was actually relevant. The director has said he cast Zac because his status as a beloved star would accurately capture the charisma and frenzy that existed around Ted in the 1970s. It's one thing to reflect our past mistakes, it's another entirely to recreate them.
Zac playing a murderer isn't my favorite idea in the world, but that isn't even the main problem with his guest stint on CSI: Miami. The episode title, "Sex And Taxes," should give away why Zac's storyline was so boring. At 18, Zac was a little too young to be having sex on television, so his part of the episode all boiled down to drama involving an IRS typo. In the end, Zac's character doesn't even end up being the one who shot an IRS worker. It's his six-year-old brother, which is so many shades of messed up. I'd say spoiler alert, but it's not like anyone is trying to watch this anyway.
New Line Cinema
I can already hear the mob banging their pitchforks on my front door for writing this, but there's a major plot point in the classic movie 17 Again that made this film way too cringey to watch. Like, yes, 17-year-old Zac hitting on his nearly 40-year-old ex-wife Leslie Mann while she's totally unaware of what's going on is a major minefield of secondhand embarrassment, but the crush his *daughter* develops on him is what's gross. Just because she doesn't know she's trying to hook up with her dad doesn't mean the incest of it all isn't super creepy, especially since this movie was written by a middle-aged man. The whole "boy with potential becomes bitter man due to teen pregnancy" plotline is also depressing and kind of basic, and I'm convinced the only reason people love this film is because Zac is at his peak hotness. Don't @ me.
When Zac was fifteen, he starred in a Lifetime original movie about a single mother and her struggle to raise two autistic sons, one of whom falls in love with running track. Surprisingly, it's not the worst Zac Efron movie on this list. It's also not the best. The plot is *exactly* what you think it's going to be, except no one dies, and watching non-autistic actors portray autistic characters is always a little uncomfortable. Zac's acting is solid, especially for a teenager, and you'll probably cry. That doesn't mean anyone in the 2010s should be watching this movie by choice.
Echo Bridge Entertainment
Another early Zefron film, The Derby Stallion shows Zac as the horse boy he was always destined to become. There's a subset of the population that likes horse boy movies, probably. This movie also gets a little weird about race, and it's super depressing, neither of which are uncommon themes in Zac Efron's early filmography. That's not normal, right? It's too sad to mock and too mediocre to take seriously, leaving the audience in a state of limbo where all they can do is wish they'd chosen to watch a different movie.
A movie starring Zac and Michael B. Jordan should have been the end-all, be-all of BFF movie nights until the end of days burns us all, but instead, it was just unwatchably bad. Not "so bad, it's good," just bad. It's formulaic, which would be fine if it was actually funny, and it takes two of the most charming men in Hollywood and manages to make them seem bland. Even the now-infamous scene of Zac trying to pee with an erection isn't enough to make this film worthy of a rewatch.
The Beach Bum was always going to be divisive because it's a Harmony Korine film. That's literally the thing he does best — make movies that people will argue about until the end of time. At least his past mainstream forays into hedonism, Spring Breakers and Kids, actually had plots. The Beach Bum pretends to try to have a storyline, which just makes its total lack of ~anything actually happening~ even more glaring. There are some people that will get through all 95 minutes of this movie, but they'll be the ones who went method and took an edible before pressing play.
Not only is Dirty Grandpa Zac Efron's worst movie *and* Robert DeNiro's worst movie, it also might be the worst movie ever made. UCLA's Daily Bruin described it as "a travesty and a punishment for everybody who watches it" and American filmmaking's lowest point in what might be the most savage movie review ever written, and I can't disagree with any of it. The film is gross, but gross is redeemable. It's also offensive to the LGBT community, disabled people, and sexual assault survivors, and isn't funny. How was this movie even made? And how did it make more money than Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and The Disaster Artist combined?