Welles Best Part of Me and Orson Welles
Christian McKay eclipses Zac Efron
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2009 11:24 AM CST
In this film publicity image released by CinemaNX Films One Limited, Zac Efron, left, and Claire Danes are shown in a scene from, "Me and Orson Welles."   (AP Photo/CinemaNX Films One Limited, Liam Daniel)
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(Newser) – Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles, an atmospheric period piece set behind the scenes of Welles' 1937 production of Julius Caesar, has critics gushing about Christian McKay as Orson Welles, but split on Zac Efron as a wide-eyed teen who stumbles into Welles's glamorous orbit:

  • The "frothy" film is upstaged by its own subject, the larger-than-life Welles, writes Besty Sharkey in the LA Times. When McKay's on screen, "everyone else fades a little"—including Efron, in a role that reveals he's still "very much in the puppy-training phase."

  • Writing in Salon, Stephanie Zacharek praises McKay's performance, which "flirts with the scary truth that arrogance can be sexy," and notes the film is set in "a long-lost time when a bold kid with a showbiz dream and a little luck could actually get somewhere. Zac Efron fits right into 1937; in 2009, he's a lost boy."
  • The movie could use more Orson Welles, less Me and, Claudia Puig writes in USA Today. McKay's a "revelation"; Efron is "likable but lackluster"; and the combination of their stories "feels like two movies cobbled together."
  • Mary Pols, writing for Time, has one quibble about the exceptional McKay: his age. "He's 36, and passing for Welles at 22 is more than a stretch, especially when you're up against the world's biggest teenybopper."