2014 Might Be Zac Efron's Best Year Ever & We're Totally Ready for It

I became a Zafronite after seeing 17 Again one Christmas break a few years ago. “It’s actually really funny,” my friend said. “You better have the Franzia ready,” I begrudgingly replied. And 90 minutes later, I had a new guilty pleasure. So needless to say I was totally gutted to hear about the young actor’s struggles with addiction. Those things are hard enough — then do them in the public eye, and well, it adds a whole new dimension to the ordeal. But thankfully, it looks like the dude is on the up and up. Zac Efron was just seen sporting a six-month AA sobriety chip at a Lakers game, and has been appearing especially fit these days.

And with all these good vibes heading his way, I’d like to think 2014 will be the Year of Zafron. The studly star has two major films coming out next year: That Awkward Moment and Neighbors, both of which re-position him into a comedic actor. That’s right. No Nicholas Sparks time-traveling love stories or squeaky-clean tween romps. Efron is going for laughs, and it looks like he’s going to get 'em in spades. In fewer words, he just may totally “Channing Tatum” his career.

Yes, that’s right. The Tatum Effect. When an actor wriggles his way out of cheesy typecasting and surprises audiences with humor and accessibility. Slap on a low-maintenance and wholly likeable public persona with the ability to poke fun at yourself and boom: a star is re-born. It looks like Zac Efron is well on his way to doing just that in 2014. The evidence:

Exhibit A: That Awkward Moment

That Awkward Moment on YouTube

Well for starters, my geek heart exploded when I first saw this trailer and thought, “Oh finally, someone is doing an interesting modern take on Love’s Labours Lost.” You know the whole dudes professing their abstinence from love and sex and then hijinx ensue plot and... okay, I digress. What also really excites me about this movie is at the heart of it, there appears to be a story of strong male companionship that is vulnerable, sweet, and refreshing. These dudes are dudes and they care about each other like great dudes so often do. Having more complex displays of male relationships on screen is a way of breaking up the rigid rules of masculinity, and that’s good for everyone. So here’s hoping the relationships they have with the women are given as much depth and humor. Efron is equal parts Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer and Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love in this trailer and... welp, I’m on board.

Exhibit B: Neighbors

Universal Pictures on YouTube

Hmmmmm. Okay, okay. Neighbors ticks many-a-boxes on the list of items of “Comedies that are Boringly Douchey.” Frat parties. Girls making out with each other. More frat parties. But, hey, don’t judge a book by its Bro-ver. I too rolled my eyes at 21 Jump Street when it first came out. And, well, I laughed stupidly hard the first time I saw it, so I’m keeping my opinions open to Neighbors. Zac Efron has the kind of charm to turn an otherwise flat and predictable role into one that’s actually appealing and a little complex. But hey, at the end of the day, if it’s just a load of slap-stick humor, here’s hoping the laughs are big and the poop and dick jokes are earned.

So here’s to ya, Zafron. And to many SNL/ Jimmy Fallon/ Jimmy Kimmel silly sketches ahead. Oh, and if you want to co-star with Tatum in a Magic Mike sequel, you won't hear us complaining.