I'm still a firm believer in the starpower and longevity of Zac Efron, but jeez, the guy has not made it easy lately. His last movie Charlie St. Cloud was a huge dud-- like, made less money than Scott Pilgrim dud, and boring to boot-- and though he's been signing on to various projects here and there in the meantime, the only things he's actually shot are a starring role in a Nicholas Sparks novel adaptation (The Lucky One and a part in the massive, bound-to-be-awful rom-com New Year's Eve. Listen, Zac, I can't watch my old DVD of Hairspray forever; eventually you're going to have to give us another reason to like you.

Now, hopefully, he's throwing me and my kind a bone. According to a press release from Mandate Pictures, Efron will officially be replacing Shia LaBeouf in an untitled romantic action film, formerly known as The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman. Fredrik Bond, a Swedish commercials director who at one point was being considered to direct something called Hovercar 3-D, has signed on direct the script by Matt Drake. Efron plays an everyday American kid who travels to Eastern Europe and falls for a local girl, only to be challenged by her criminal ex. As the press release describes it:
Armed with little more than his wit and naive charm, Efron endures one bruising beat down after another in order to woo the girl he loves and achieve salvation.
Weirdly that sounds a lot like the plot of Scott PIlgrim somehow-- maybe Efron was inspired by a fellow underachiever from summer 2010. The press release describes the untitled project as a "priority project" for Mandate, so hopefully by the time New Year's Eve makes it to theaters, we'll at least know when to look for this one as a potential palate cleanser.

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