The teen idol phenomenon took the ’50s by storm in music and in film. Performers like Elvis and James Dean absorbed attention and dollars from the flush, post-war decade when young adults had enough free time and discretionary income to create their own brand of consumer culture like never before.

In the decades that followed, movie studios constantly trumpeted the “next big thing” hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and they sometimes managed with studio-made heartthrobs like Tab Hunter, Troy Donohue to the ’70s and 80’s choices of Scott Baio and the Coreys (Feldman and Haim).

More recently, the crown, tossed cavalierly aside by the likes of Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp, has been searching fervently for a new head to perch upon.

Two of the likely candidates, Shia LaBeouf and Joseph Gordon-Levitt toss their hats into the ring with the advent of two films: Disturbia and The Lookout.

Both thrillers, the young men star and carry the pictures for better and for worse in their own bids for “serious actor” recognition.

LaBeouf, often compared to Tom Hanks, brings his wise cracking persona to Disturbia, a take off on the great Albert Hitchcock film Rear Window (starring Jimmy Stewart who Hanks often gets compared to). It’s hard to blame Disturbia because the rip off is so blatant, but on the other hand, if you’re gonna rip off a great film, you should so your best to live up to the legacy.

LaBeouf lazily plays Kale, a troubled young man who keeps finding himself on the wrong side of the law. The chills never materialize, and the plot doesn’t even attempt to twist and turn, but instead lays itself out like an interstate highway straight through Kansas.

Between LaBeouf and Gordon-Levitt, my money’s on Joseph. After knocking both Brick and Mysterious Skin out of the park, Gordon-Levitt continues to mature in The Lookout.

Soulful and tormented, like a good teen idol, Gordon-Levitt plays Chris Pratt, a young man suffering extreme injuries from a car accident that left him with serious memory lapses as a result of a brain injury.

His life completely shattered, Chris goes from being a star athlete in high school to becoming a janitor at a small town bank with little prospects for a better future.

The writer/director, Scott Frank, does a wonderful job of keeping the story moving and entertaining with interesting characters and snappy dialogue. His first film as a director, Scott previously wrote the tight and funny noir-ish films Get Shorty, Minority Report and Out of Sight.

Though The Lookout does not quite reach the lofty heights of those three movies, it’s an extremely well done debut feature.

The Lookout extras: commentary by Pratt and director of photography, making-of featurette, Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt.

The Lookout: A

Disturbia: C-

Disturbia and The Lookout are both currently available.