I see dead people. Or, at least, I see Zac Efron seeing dead people in the fantasy romantic drama Charlie St. Cloud. The movie is part Ghost, part Ghost Whisperer and part Sixth Sense, so it’s fairly easy to stay one step ahead of the dialogue and plot, with just a few exceptions.

Efron plays the title character, Charlie St. Cloud. He’s a smart, sensitive, fun-loving guy about to head off to Stanford on a sailing scholarship. But his plans hit the skids, in a big way, when his younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) is killed in a violent car crash, with Charlie at the wheel. Charlie is overcome by guilt and spends the next several years fulfilling a promise to play catch with his brother on a daily basis – even though his brother is dead. And instead of going off to college, Charlie works as a caretaker at the local cemetery. Generally a good place to keep tabs on dead people.

The first half of the movie centers on the bittersweet relationship between the brothers who are both struggling to ‘move on’. The second half is largely devoted to Charlie’s budding romance with a former high school sailing nemesis named Tess (Amanda Crew) who may or may not be dead too.

Efron does an admirable job with the movie, which falls under the ‘not great, but not a total waste of time’ category. The supporting cast is fine, though Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta have surprisingly small roles and consequently very little to showcase in the way of character development. Basinger plays the boys’ single mother, who moves away after the accident. And Liotta is a paramedic who believes that Charlie’s life was spared for a reason.

Zac Efron in Charlie St. Cloud is like Miley Cyrus in The Last Song – two actors on the cusp of adulthood taking on more mature roles in an effort to break out of their Disney shells – if only their fan base would let them. Tweens will want to see this movie even though it’s totally inappropriate. It is, after all, rated PG-13 for a reason. Charlie St. Cloud features some fairly brutal moments on land and at sea, not to mention adult themes about death, guilt, love and redemption. But Zac being Zac… good luck keeping the girls at bay. That hair! Those eyes! Oh my! Okay, I admit it. He is kinda cute. And when the camera zooms in on those Newman-esque baby blues, one thing becomes crystal clear: if his eyes don’t change color, Efron has a real future as a leading man in the chick flick universe.

One thought on “Charlie St. Cloud”
  1. Perfect review! I agree…especially with the ‘not great, but not a total waste of time’ assessment. I’m sure we’ll continue to see more of Zac in the future.

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