As Shia LaBeouf grows up,critical acclaim grows stronger

He has grown up in the movies and on TV. So naturally Shia LaBeouf'sconversation is littered with movie references.

Especially when he's talking about his latest, Disturbia, a claustrophobicthriller about a teenager who is under house arrest and thinks hissecretive neighbor might be a serial killer.

"One of my favorite movies is Rear Window," he says, referring to theAlfred Hitchcock classic of 1954, the obvious inspiration for Disturbia."Being in the Jimmy Stewart seat was fun. It's a movie where you don't have tohave anybody saying anything to know what's going on. He was confined to awheelchair, I was under house arrest. Otherwise, same story."

Disturbia -- the title is a play on the strange goings-on in suburbia --plays around with privacy and the loss of it, of peeking in on people via theInternet and watching them on ever-tinier camcorders.

"Look at movies like The Conversation [1974], all about wiretaps, listeningin on phone calls, privacy invaded," LaBeouf says. "And that was, what, 30years ago? The technology makes that sort of thing even more invasive now.

"Our movie is like Straw Dogs [1971], or Say Anything [1989]. To me, it's agenre-jumper. It's all over the place -- half comedy, half romance, halfthriller, it's like 14 halves of a movie. I hope people laugh, cry and screamin the same film."

LaBeouf's performance as "Everydude" (The Hollywood Reporter) in the filmis winning early praise. The ShoWest convention of the National Association ofTheater Owners named him this year's "star of tomorrow."

We would expect no less. Chazz Palminteri, who did father-son scenes withLaBeouf in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, calls him "the best young-actorI've ever worked with. Experienced way beyond his years." Gregg Kilday of TheHollywood Reporter notes that he is "poised to make his mark on the summer boxoffice," with appearances in Surf's Up and Transformers following hisstar-turn in Disturbia.

Memorable as a kid golfer facing down the world's best in 2005's TheGreatest Game Ever Played, edgy-funny as a campaign worker who discovers drugsin last year's Bobby, LaBeouf has spent a third of his life in front of thecamera. He starred in the award-winning children's series, Even Stevens, madethe move to films with Holes (2003), and is passing out of adolescence onscreen with such movies as A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and Disturbia.

College? Maybe later. He was accepted at Yale but chose not to go.

"Right now, I'm getting the kind of education you don't get at school."

Even though he turns 21 in June, he has one last blast from his kiddie pastto take care of. Transformers, the big-screen, live-action version of the hitcartoon series of the late '80s and early '90s, is due out this summer. Thebuzz, from fans, is almost deafening. And LaBeouf is in it.

"It was me, and Yogi Bear, and Transformers," he says. "That's me growingup. To me, it's the most plausible of all the superhero stories. The moviewill be that way, too.

"It's not about some dude in a cape or a spider costume. It's verytangible, this idea that machines that take over.

"We're using robots in war, already. These things already exist. I totallybelieve this could happen.

"I can promise you, it'll be the sickest action movie you'll see thisyear."

Rmoore@Orlandosentinel.Com

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