The JFK assassination, as seen by Zac Efron.
Peter Landesman (USA, Gala Presentation)
Friday, September 6, 9:30 p.m.
Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street)
Sunday, September 8, 12:30 p.m.
The Winter Garden Theatre (189 Yonge Street)
The most generous way to approach Parkland, a mawkish compendium of storytelling cliches posing as a behind-the-scenes look at the day of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, might be to read it as an unofficial prequel to Bobby, another star-studded Kennedy movie that nobody asked for. As in Bobby, we get a mix of fresh celebrity meat (Shia Labeouf and Lindsay Lohan there, Zac Efron here) and heavy-hitters (Billy Bob Thornton and Paul Giamatti) stranded in a high-school production of American history, reciting goofy, faux-prescient lines about what a nice day it is for a motorcade, at least until the shots ring out.
Everyone suffers under first-timer Peter Landesman’s pedestrian direction—poor Efron plays an ER resident who spends ages administering CPR to a lifeless JFK in one awkward, blood-drenched set piece—but James Badge Dale somehow manages to give a moving performance as Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother Robert. Landesman’s efforts to parallel the Kennedy and Oswald assassinations are typically clumsy and overwrought, but Dale delivers.