Forget, for a moment, television’s American Idol. We may have a new big screen pin-up, albeit one of a chatty, somewhat canted appeal. It was a good week indeed for Shia LaBeouf, who ensured that a lot more people will start to learn how to correctly spell his name, what with the strong opening of his Disturbia, a thriller which premiered to an estimated $23 million and change at just over 2,900 locations, good for tops at the box office. (Fellow wide-release opener Perfect Stranger, meanwhile, washed out with $11.5 million at 2,660 sites.) No mind that the movie was a slickly made but only moderately engaging, teen-inflected tweak on the central conceit of Rear Window, and that it ultimately ran out of things to say in the third act — the fact remains that LaBeouf put his stamp of personality on the film, and the under-25 set, leaning female within that group, made it a big hit.
LaBeouf’s hosting gig on Saturday Night Live was a further nice little showcase for him. It wasn’t a classic episode (a notion somewhat amusingly assayed in the show’s opener, where an enthusiastic LaBeouf was met with the shrugging reticence of cast members), but it did offer him a few nice moments. His impression of Tobey Maguire on The Prince Show was a push, but there were fun moments to be had in a public access-type Sofa King commercial (as in, “Our prices are Sofa King low!”) as well as a sketch in which an underage LaBeouf and Andy Samberg concocted a labyrinthine, unfolding scheme to purchase beer at a mini-mart. The best display of the sort of self-assurance that has helped catapult LaBeouf to the top of casting directors’ lists, though, came in the final moments of the show, in a throwaway meta-sketch in which Maya Rudolph aggressively hit on LaBeouf, apparently solely because their first names rhyme.
One of the worst kept secrets in Hollywood, meanwhile, finally was officially rolled out and confirmed — namely, LaBeouf’s casting in the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series, in a yet-to-be-determined capacity. LaBeouf has a friend in Steven Spielberg — he helped place the young actor in Michael Bay’s Transformers, on which he’s an executive producer — so more good things are on the horizon for LaBeouf, to be sure, even if my girlfriend still refers to him as “that little Project Greenlight movie kid.”