Zac Efron, left, and Dave Franco in "Neighbors." (Glen Wilson / Universal…)
"That Awkward Moment" star Zac Efron had, ahem, one of those himself when he got into a scuffle with at least one homeless person early Sunday after he and a friend found themselves stranded in downtown Los Angeles.
No arrests were made, but the incident comes at a time when the 26-year-old former "High School Musical" heartthrob would presumably rather be basking in the early buzz for his comedy "Neighbors," which opens May 9 from Universal.
In the raunchy, R-rated film, Efron plays a hard-partying fraternity leader who feuds with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne's young married couple, and reviews out of the SXSW film festival this month were very good.
Variety's Andrew Barker wrote, " 'Neighbors' is an unchecked riot that should go a long way toward selling antagonist Zac Efron as a credible adult actor, though as with anything involving the Greek system, a bit more moderation from the start might have prevented a few headaches afterward." The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore called the film "very funny" and added that Efron is "credibly hateful."
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"Neighbors" also screened at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday and had the audience of theater owners "roaring loudly at envelope-pushing scenes," according to the Wrap.
Efron's bizarre late-night run-in, then, is coming at an inopportune time. The star has spent years trying to establish himself as a serious actor — as opposed to primarily a tabloid presence — in the wake of the "High School Musical" franchise that made him famous. No star ever likes promoting a movie while they're in the headlines for other reasons, but Efron in particular seems to have a tendency to run into that challenge.
To compound the issue, "Neighbors," with its focus on frenetic partying and mayhem, bounces somewhat uneasily against Efron's own personal life, with the actor recently being forced to address a report that he did two secret stints in rehab over the past year. After all this personal drama, Efron would no doubt rather up the noise level on screen and keep his real life quiet.
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