Sam begs Charlie to play catch with him.
The romance genre is, and this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, a worn out genre. Dozens upon dozens of romance drama, rom-com, and any film centered on a love story have come at us in just the last decade. Some, like the odd but refreshingly different Her, take the concept of love and flip it on its head. Others, mostly the vast majority, throw a love story into a standard plot and out comes a movie. Charlie St. Cloud attempts to add the supernatural to a story about love and brotherhood, yet simply offers another corny outing that brings nothing new to the table.
Charlie makes a deal with Sam to play catch every day an hour before sunset, something that continues after Sam’s death.
Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is living the American dream. He’s an outstanding sailor in a coastal Washington town, has an adoring brother, and a strong, loving mother (Kim Basinger). While his mother is struggling to work extra shifts at the hospital, Charlie’s sailing scholarship will put him through school yet will take him away from his brother Sam (Charlie Tahan). On the way to a graduation party, Charlie is driving his little brother to a friend’s house when they get into a terrible car accident. Charlie has an out of body experience holding his dying brother, is revived in the ambulance, and sees his brother has passed. Five years later, his college plans on hold, Charlie’s working at a graveyard and hangs out with his brother’s ghost every sunset to play catch. He meets Tess (Amanda Crew), a girl he sailed against in high school, and learns she’s planning on sailing around the world. The two fall for each other and Charlie must make a choice between moving forward with Tess or holding on to the memory of his brother.
Charlie playing in the rain with the ghost of Sam.
The film attempts to be so many things, and ends up mirroring an unrefined work. There are elements of comedy, romance, and even fantasy all at play here. The film is based on the novel The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud, and presents the supernatural elements of the book in a rather straightforward manner. There’s a slight notion amongst the other townsfolk as to whether Charlie actually might be crazy instead, yet that is sadly not dived into as much as it should have been. What instead happens is a young adult attempt at Ghost. One scene in particular, involving Charlie seeing a high friend who joined the Marines, comes off as terribly sad once it’s revealed that the friend is in fact standing at his own grave. Besides that, the supernatural elements of the film don’t land too well, especially involving the twist towards the end.
Tess brings romance and a new future to Charlie’s life.
Besides the paranormal aspects of the film, the rest follows as a typical romantic drama. The two lovers meet again, it’s awkward, they find a common ground, fall in love, and break up just for a bit only to live happily ever after when Tess goes missing and Charlie uses his seafaring skills to find her. Efron does justice as the romantic lead. Playing the stoic, somewhat troubled Charlie, he doesn’t have the greatest range but looks the part. Amanda Crew is fine as his love interest, hitting all the right notes but unfortunately her character doesn’t have much depth.
Eventually Charlie must choose between Sam and Tess.
Sam sliding in the rain and mud on a garbage can lid, shot 1.
Chucks appear in quite a few parts of the film. Charlie’s brother Sam always sports a pair of red high tops during their time playing catch. The best scene is when Sam and Charlie splash around in the rain and mud while sliding on garbage can lids.
Sam sliding in the rain and mud on a garbage can lid, shot 2.
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