Next came even more fodder for all the tweens who lay claim to their parent’s credit cards, the onscreen adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars.
Elgort reprised his partnership with Woodley, playing the ill-fated Gus to her ill-fated Hazel. It was a totally sappy teen-love-story-meets-cancer story but it was a great setup for Elgort to begin to become something of a critical (and popular) darling. The flick (and his performance) was so good that it actually helped a YA story receive positive reviews. Maybe he was even so good that his character reduced entire theaters to blubbering messes. Maybe the onscreen death of that adorable, adorable face caused certain people to sit in their cars and weep for a good 15 minutes after the credits rolled. Maybe.
Elgort had an upbringing that was markedly more sophisticated than many of his acting peers, but still has strong parallels to Zac Efron and other triple (or more) threats. He grew up in Manhattan with his fashion photographer father (who has shot exclusively for Vogue for several decades) and his opera director mother. He trained at the professional performing arts school and LaGuardia High School (you know, the one from Fame), and also auditioned for the American Ballet School, which all collectively accounts for his current impressive dance moves. Efron devotees would probably take this moment to point out that he made it through Hairspray and three installments of High School Musical without ever having any formal dance training, but this story isn’t about him, is it?
Ansel’s love for all things rhythmic is on full display in the heist action flick Baby Driver, which hit theaters this week. It’s a wild ride in the very literal sense of the term, following a sheisty and ragtag group of bank robbers who are intent on terrorizing Atlanta for every penny they can steal, led by a terrifyingly buttoned-up Kevin Spacey. At the helm of it all is Elgort’s Baby, who acts as the innocent (relatively speaking) and law-abiding (even more relatively speaking) getaway driver. (His name is Baby and he’s a Driver, get it?).
Baby had a traumatic upbringing (no spoilers here) and found himself indebted to Spacey with forced servitude the only way to pay it off: He’s a master behind the wheel and is obligated to join in on the heists until the two are even. The entire flick is centered around Baby’s love of music—he has tinnitus from a childhood accident and the only way to absolve it is constantly playing music on his many stolen iPods—and every step and line of dialogue that Elgort delivers is to the beat of an incredible soundtrack.
The movie is currently enjoying a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes after a stint at an impressive 100% (you can bet that’s certified fresh) and can only be described as the critical darling of the summer. Praise for the movie, and for Elgort’s performance in it, has been flowery and practically never-ending. Everyone should see this movie, but even more importantly it has put him at the highest point of his young career. He is the unquestioned star of a summer blockbuster that boasts heavy talent like Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx and the movie’s press tour has involved his covering magazines and doing endless late-night talk show appearances. He’s graduated to the big leagues and the A-list should watch its back.
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