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'The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud'
gradyharp16 November 2010
Ben Sherwood's Novel THE DEATH AND LIFE OF CHARLIE ST. CLOUD pretty much describes this Hallmarky love and spiritualism showcase for teen idol Zac Efron. Craig Pearce and Lewis Colick adapted the book for the screen and director Burr Sherwood (known for his other films that are of this genre) stirs the whipped cream. It is a pretty story with pretty people filmed in a pretty location (British Columbia) and the results are pretty predictable, yet when compared to the types of stories on film that flood the theaters at least this film has gentle heart and a lack of terror and horror and for that we should be pleased.

Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron, who holds in own in this rather implausible role) is a highly regarded young sailor who is wins a sailing scholarship to Stanford upon graduation from high school. He is devoted to his younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) and his single mother nurse Claire (Kim Basinger - don't blink or you'll miss her very brief appearance in the film). One night while Claire is on extra shift at the hospital Charlie and Sam are in an auto accident: Sam dies, but Charlie is resuscitated by paramedic Florio Ferrente (Ray Liotta, in another very brief cameo). Charlie is devastated over Sam's death and gives up his chances for a life by taking a custodian job in the town cemetery so he can be near a certain spot where he 'sees' and communicates with Sam every sunset - a life long promise to never leave his little brother. Five years pass and Charlie's friend Alistair (Augustus Prew) - his only other friend Sully (Dave Franco, brother of actor James Franco) has gone into the military - tries to encourage Charlie to date, but Charlie's eyes fall on Tess (Amanda Crew), a fellow sailor from the past, and love begins. Tess decides to take a long solo voyage in her boat and disappears. Charlie meets the now cancer-ridden and dying Florio who gives him his St Jude medal and encourages Charlie to embrace life. Charlie strikes out on a mission to find the missing Tess and the rest is pretty obvious.

Though the story is heavy on the saccharine edge and strains credibility, the team of actors is very fine - especially Zac Efron, whose presence is on the screen in practically every frame - so the film ends up being endearing. The cinematography by Enrique Chediak is gorgeous and the musical score by Rolfe Kent leans heavily on sad love songs. It is not a profound film though it does dip gently into the ideas of 'the beyond', but there is something about the honesty of it all that makes it s a satisfying evening of entertainment.

Grady Harp
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The St. Cloud Brothers In Life And Death
bkoganbing9 August 2010
I was much moved by Charlie St. Cloud and by Zac Efron in the title role. It looks like the young man is going out way beyond being a Walt Disney bubblegum poster boy for pubescent young ladies.

When we first meet Efron in the title role he looks to be a young man with a bright future. A scholarship to Stanford is his as he graduates high school from his New England coastal town where he enjoys sailing and the companionship of his younger brother Charles Tatan. The two are rabid Red Sox fans as all New England kids are brought up to be. Efron's boat is named the Splendid Splinter which everyone in New England knows is the nickname of Ted Williams. Being much older than Zac or his character, I actually remember seeing Ted play.

A cruel trick of fate puts the two of them in the path of an oncoming drunk driver. Both die, but a determined paramedic played by Ray Liotta brings Efron back.

As per an agreement they made minutes before the crash, Efron and Tatan still meet in the woods every day to play catch and work on Tatan's baseball skills. It's all Efron lives for. By some trick of fate he can communicate and see Tatan, in fact he sees all kinds of dead folks including a young man he graduated with from high school who was killed in Iraq. Efron's forgotten Stanford and he now works at the local graveyard, the better to be near the ones he identifies with.

I won't go into the rest except that Efron does learn to let the dead bury the dead. Meeting up with Amanda Crew, another sailing enthusiast does help. And Liotta now dying of cancer tells Zac that he was saved for some special purpose.

Two great lessons of life are to be learned in Charlie St. Cloud. First that we all have some kind of destiny, the trick is to find it and recognize it. The second is that some people die young and maybe are meant to so that the rest of us recognize how precious life is and not to waste it. Having lost any number of people including a sister at a young age, it's something that is always uppermost in my mind.

Charlie St. Cloud is beautifully filmed with some breathtaking sailing sequences. The performers are flawless, especially Zac Efron. One thing I will agree with other reviewers about is that I wish that the role of the mother of the St. Cloud brothers played by Kim Basinger was more fully developed. After the death of her younger son, she moves out of town and you never really learn why.

Despite that minor criticism, Charlie St. Cloud is a moving film that should be seen by all generations for the life lessons imparted.
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If I could rate it higher I would...
sammie-hartman12 March 2011
As I watched this movie I felt like I was viewing my own life story...

In 1991 I lost my little brother to a tragic accident as well. The emotions and inability to continue "living" life felt by Charlie are the same I had struggled with for many years. I found this movie to be extremely emotional, heart felt and true to the subject at hand. The acting of ALL the actors was outstanding, as well as the camera work, editing, directing, and most of all the writing.

If you like movies with true heart and emotion I highly recommend this movie as you can tell by my rating of 10. Honestly, I would rate it even higher than that if I could.

Although my love of this movie is very much inspired by my personal attachment to the subject, I think anyone would find this movie to be very touching...
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It's not 'The Sixth Sense' but Zac Efron delivers...
rizzy999911 November 2010
Charlie St Cloud is the type of movie many people will love to hate. The plot is simply contrived and the script is somewhat identical to Shyamalan's film "The Sixth Sense" yet I was very much moved by the story of Charlie St. Cloud and by Zac Efron in the title role. It looks like Zac is going out of his way to shred that teenage 'High School Musical' image that he is now known for.

When we first meet Efron in the title role he looks to be a young man with a bright future. A scholarship to Stanford awaits as he graduates high school from his New England coastal town where he enjoys sailing with his younger brother Charlie Tahan. The two share some heart warming chemistry as brothers, those who have younger siblings will understand the brotherly love between the two.

However, a cruel trick of fate puts the two of them in the path of an oncoming drunk driver. Both die, but a determined, spiritual paramedic played by Ray Liotta manages to bring Efron back.

As per an agreement they made minutes before the crash, Zac and Charlie still meet in the woods every day to play catch and work on Charlie's baseball skills. It's all Efron lives for. By some trick of fate he can communicate and see his deceased brother. Efron's forgotten Stanford and he now works at the local graveyard, to be close Charlie so that He can fulfil the promise he made.

I won't go into it too much except that the climax is something that we have seen before yet it is still touching and shows that we must learn that the true value of life is to live and let live.

I came out of the cinema feeling good and that is what the film is all about- loving life. My only criticism is that Liotta and Kim Basinger(as the mother) don't have enough screen time, although i must say that Liotta still manages to impress even with this small supporting role. Zac Efron and Charlie Tahan deliver strong performances as the two brothers and Amanda Crew is pretty decent. The film is beautifully shot and the scenery is quite breathtaking at times.

We've seen quite a few romantic dramas this year(Dear John, The Last Song)- but this has to be one of the most touching(not the most original i must say) but still, it'll make you feel good inside. So my advice is go watch the movie or rent it when it comes out on DVD and don't believe those critics who's job it is to tell us how bad the movie must be just because it didn't earn $100 million at the box office.
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Simple romantic drama, nothing more and nothing less
napierslogs6 August 2010
I like movies that are exactly as they claim to be. "Charlie St. Cloud" is just that, a romantic drama, nothing more and nothing less.

There is nothing profound, although with a few thoughtful dynamics, it's just the story of a young man (Zac Efron) unable to overcome the tragic death of his younger brother until he meets a beautiful girl who shares his same passion for sailing.

The problems are plentiful, with cringe-worthy dialogue, supporting actors who haven't yet learned how to act, no affecting drama producing few tears, and there just isn't enough to completely hold your attention. But yet, because it's a simple love story that doesn't pretend to be grandiose and doesn't force out-of-place tears, I liked "Charlie St. Cloud". I found it to be sweet, subdued and modest.

It was also the perfect choice for Zac Efron as he matures in his acting career. Sure, there are probably a few too many shots of Efron standing in his jeans and t-shirts staring into the sunset with his longing, blue eyes, but that is, of course, partly why we would watch it in the first place.
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Better than Imagined
kosmasp30 December 2010
I have to admit, that I never gave much thought of the phenomenon that was surrounding Zac Efron. The ladies seemed to love him and no one could have blamed him, if he just kept making the simple romantic movies, that would please his fan base.

He seems to have other things on his mind though. He is trying to act. And I have to admit, that I was surprised at how engaging and how truthful he seemed in this one. I do think he is better than the High School Musical tag he has stamped on him (which would mean, he is a bad actor, which frankly I don't think could be said of him).

His character does get a lot of attention from the female characters on display here, which seems natural. On the other hand, you do have the female lead in here, that does not seem to get any attention whatsoever, which makes you wonder if the male "population" in the movie is blind or into other things. Whatever it is, this is one of the things that do not feel right. The other being the mixture between the elements on display here. Let me just tell you, that this isn't neither your simple romantic movie, nor just pure drama. There is other aspects to it. I can see though that this might ruin the movie for quite a few people. Especially if they expected something more straight-forward.
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Beautiful Well Acted Film
susansmoose31 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
After reading the book, I could hardly wait for this film to open and believe me it doesn't disappoint.

Zac Efron does a great acting job as Charlie St. Cloud, a boy who has just received a sailing scholarship from Stamford. His future is all but sewn up until he and his brother Sam (played wonderfully by Charlie Tahan)get into a car accident. Sam and Charlie both die, but a caring paramedic by the name of Florio Ferrente (another great performance by Ray Liotta) performs a miracle and is able to bring Charlie back. Before he returns to the land of the living, Charlie promises Sam that he will always be there for him, no matter what. And so every day, Charlie comes back to play catch with Sam. Five years later he has chucked his scholarship and is now a caretaker at Waterside Cemetery, so that he can be close to his brother. Everything is going along well, until he spies a young woman by the name of Tess Carroll (another great acting job by Amanda Crew) who is getting ready to sail around the world. He meets her at the cemetery while she is cleaning out her father's grave and the two form a strong bond, although neither of them knows it yet.

One day, Florio spots Charlie in the street and tells him that he was saved for a reason and was given a second chance at life and that Charlie is just throwing his life away.

After a few days, he spots Tess again at her father's grave and their bond becomes deeper until the two fall passionately in love. Now Charlie must choose between the living and the dead and find his second chance at life.

By the way, Charlie can see the dead because of the promise he made to his brother before he was brought back to life by Florio. When he breaks the bond with Sam, he loses the ability to see the dead.

The movie did follow the book closely with slight differences, but all in all it is a film worth checking out just to marvel at the great acting job by all. And I am going to recommend reading the beautiful book The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood. You will need a hankie for both.

for advice is to read the will explain away a lot of the things that are missing for you...
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Beautifully filmed but story telling is poor
Gordon-1125 December 2010
This film is about a young man who loses his younger brother to a traffic accident. He remains locked in a state of grief until he rekindles with his friend from high school.

"Charlie St. Cloud" is beautifully filmed, with great artistic scenes and amazing sceneries. Cinematography is great, and many scenes are so beautiful that they could become postcards. However, the story is not as good, it is not very engaging. I find the plot unconvincing and the story telling is rather poor. The romance Charlie and the girl develops is unconvincing and contrived, and the emotional burden and guilt of Charlie could have been explored further.
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Pleasing drama which doesn't go entirely according to expectations
Neil Welch14 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Charlie St Cloud (Zac Efron) has won a sailing scholarship to university, but promises baseball mad younger brother Sam that he will join him for baseball practice for an hour every evening during the last summer holiday. When Sam is killed in a car crash, Charlie is still turning up for the evening's baseball practice with his brother's ghost five years later, having effectively put his life on hold. Then he encounters Tess (Amanda Crew) - they were at high school together and she is scheduled for a solo trans-world sailing contest - and, when it seems that she might be the one to shake Charlie away from his stagnation, it appears that maybe Sam isn't happy with the possibility.

All this was clear from the trailer, and in its own way is fairly routine ghost story / psychological drama stuff, executed tolerably well - the pre-accident stuff is done well enough to enable you to empathise with Charlie and Sam, Charlie is understandably morose through much of the remainder, and there is nice brotherly chemistry between Efron and young Charlie Tahan, and young romance chemistry between Efron and Crew.

But then the story jinked off to one side and took a couple of changes of direction which I didn't see coming, which really pleased me. And I'm not going to say any more, other than that the story is quite nicely constructed, and the resolution is satisfying.
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Charlie St. Cloud To Me
sunshine_2610 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Charlie St. Cloud is a remarkable story about life and love, death and loss, letting go and moving on. But above all it's about the bond between two brothers that not even death can break.

Charlie St. Cloud the movie was not exactly like the book but it did not disappoint me as a whole,because while it is based on the book, you also have to appeal to the movie goers and I think they did that well.For me, having read the book there were a couple things (scenes and script) that I missed. Iwill point out what I missed but I feel I first have to comment on the beautiful portrayal of the main character Charlie St. Cloud by ZacEfron. Even if I had not known who was going to be playing Charlie in the movie Zac Efron would have been my choice, he just fits the part.He brought everything that was needed in that character to the big screen. You really felt the bond between him and his younger brother Sam who was portrayed by Charlie Tahan (wonderful performance). AfterSam dies but is caught in the in between, he and Charlie are still connected, and you need that bond to be strong but also believable throughout and they did just that. Zac Efron is one of the best actors out there today in my opinion. Yes he is incredibly handsome but he is also incredibly talented and in my opinion as the years go on I think he is just going to become more of a talented actor and may be even become one of the best actors of all time if he continues on. I think people should not type cast him in the musical roles, because while he is great in all of those, he is also amazing in more serious roles that don't involve singing and dancing (like Me and Orson Welles and 17 Again... he may do a tiny bit of both in each of those but you get what I mean, I'm talking the full on musicals) and I hope he continues to do more of the serious/mature roles like this one was. I've heard that some critics out there don't feel that Zac got the emotions across that Charlie goes through; I feel that all those critics are wrong, I think he got all the emotions across the way that the book intended them to be and the way that in real life sometimes you feel in those kind of situations. Zac to me always gets his emotions across through his beautiful blue eyes, and too me that's important, because you can tell a lot of what someone is feeling from their eyes (at least in my opinion). I felt every emotion that he felt, and to be honest I think every time he cried I cried because it was a moment when you would and the same goes for his happy moments and so on, so don't tell me that he didn't get his emotions across because I felt them all through his acting. All of the actors and actress's portrayed their characters well, however there were a few characters from the book that were missing in the movie and in some ways I felt they were needed, but what can you do. This movie had some incredible scenery and the way it was captured on film was beautiful. The soundtrack, which is always important to me, was amazing. I especially loved the song While We Were Dreaming by Pink Mountaintops. The things I missed from the book in this film, well there's a scene where Tess meets and can see Sam and I think it is a pivotal moment in the book and would have brought more sense to those who watched the movie and had not read the book. I think they should have taken us on Tess's journey in her boat when things go wrong, I guess for the movie goers they thought maybe it would give away too much, I suppose in some ways it might have. Ray Liotta's character Florio Ferrente to me did not get enough of a part, he is a key character in the book and I think it would have given the movie just that much more if he had narrated a bit at the beginning and end like he seems to do in the book. Some of the most beautiful words come from his character and I don't think they did him justice in the movie and that's too bad, I really admired his character in the book. All in all I think both the book and the movie are a must read and watch. Until next time! "Qualcuno ti ama."
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Cliché-free, simple but beautiful, well-acted film
bluepolkadotsxo8 August 2010
I really enjoyed this movie. It didn't disappoint me at all because I didn't expect much more than a beautiful love story, pretty scenery, very good acting, and thought-provoking ideas. I got exactly what I came for and maybe even a little more. The script is pretty dull, but the way the movie was filmed and acted made it absolutely amazing the way I saw it. Absolutely gorgeous scenery and cinematography, original ideas and scenes (I loved the graveyard scene when Tess and Charlie are chasing each other around with candle lights and pretty music, there was nothing at all about it that I'd seen before), very good acting, and a very beautiful story is what made this movie so great in my eyes.

Despite how gorgeous Zac Efron is, it is clear he is capable of above-mediocre acting. He had nearly nothing to work with but made this movie captivating because of how carefully he played his words and showed his emotion. Nothing felt forced. The script is so dull but because of his ability to portray what was meant to be said, it made the movie ten times better. He is much more than good looks even though and I know his blue eyes are distracting, but he has a lot of talent. I think some people don't want to believe that someone can have both great looks and great talent because they get envious. He has made astounding career choices and has worked his way to the top, unlike Miley Cyrus, he has pure talent and heart at what he does, and hasn't gone all bare-skinned and photo scandal-ish to draw attention away from his lack of talent. He is grateful for his career and his talent is shining through. I believe he has a very promising career ahead of him despite all this silly hatred he is getting. He is a precious gem in my eyes; both gorgeous and very talented and able to show emotion in such a real way. The lead actress Amanda Crew did an okay job, she wasn't terrible, wasn't great. His graveyard friend provided comic relief and I thought he was funny.

All in all, I give this movie 10/10 because I went in theaters to see it twice, I am thoroughly impressed with Zac and the career choices he has made, I loved how uniquely it was filmed and how original the story was, and I'm just a sappy hopeless romantic so I love films like this.
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1 of the best emotional movie of all time
Amir Munir19 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen many emotional movies but this movie is Outstanding. It contains Drama, Romance, thrill and Fantasy in it. these combinations of different genre makes this movie so much special. When I first watch it I cried a lot maybe because the whole team have put so much effort in it. The story is all about the love bond between two brothers. It surrounds around the care a brother share for other. I would totally suggest this movie to anyone who likes emotional movies just like "the fault in our stars". P.s the casting is awesome, Zac Efron and Amanda Crew gives the best acting as they always. In short words, The movie is Fantastic.
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Lovely movie!
candycanehearts21 December 2010
I really enjoyed watching this movie, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes love stories/dramas. Zac Effron really stood out in his leading role. It was a beautiful love story with beautiful scenery. It will pull your heartstrings, as it's a very touching and emotional film. The main actors were great, and made the story believable. I think Zac Effron really made this film. He did such a wonderful job portraying grief, love, and loyalty. I look forward to seeing him in more leading roles in the future. The leading female role by Amanda Crew was really good as well. This movie allows the viewer to look deep into the hearts of others, which is a lovely thing. This one I will definitely be adding to my DVD collection at home.
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Moving film, beautifully filmed, well acted
cal194613 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was totally enjoyable. As a sailor myself, the sailing shots were right on, really brought back memories. I loved the rapport between Charlie and Sam, as Charlie was 6 years older than Sam, and their father not part of the family for most of Sam's life, Charlie had to be both brother and father. I thought Zac handled it well. Sam was adorable which makes Charlie putting his life on hold for five years a bit more believable. The one thing about which I am confused is location. They call the town Quincy, so I think Quincy, Mass. until Tess is sailing and she tells Tink she just passed Whidbey Island on Puget sound and when they go to rescue her, they head for Cape Flattery, which is on the western tip of WA, near the Olympic National Park. I loved how Charlie interacted with spirits and we were kept in the dark, such a captivating idea, I like to think it is possible for any one of us, though it has never happened to me. As no one gets out of this alive, we must say goodbye to those we love, some too soon, and go on living, just as Charlie finally does. I recommend this film.
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Death & Life of Charlie St Cloud, Book and Movie
Tanya du Toit8 November 2010
A suggestion on understanding the movie, or possibly allowing a brief introduction to it, would be to read the book prior to watching the film. The first two chapters should suffice. My 'feel' upon entering the movie with the brief knowledge of the brothers and their relationship upon start of novel, allowed me to get into Charlie's head and the movie adaptation. A very well selected cast in my opinion, for all 3 very intricate characters, IE. Zac, Amanda and Charlie Tahan. The 2 brothers played the roles brilliantly and with great emotion, even if only with a facial expression. Amanda Crew played Tess with equal & great style. She only had to watch Charlie St Cloud from a distance for us to understand why her interest in him. The movie plays off of emotion alone, thus, the facial expressions in this movie are not something to ignore. They are the 'script' of the film. Naturally, the movie timing does not allow the entire details of the book to be entailed, which is why the Book and Movie must be read and watched as suggested. A great feat for Zac, his acting skills are bettering by each choice of project. When watching him at his skill, I myself see a familiar style such as in his peers: DiCaprio, LeBouf and an undiscovered River Phoenix. Not many actors can do & allow-for, too much emotional depth in their projects. They are few and far between. Overall, a Beautiful story of choosing to hold on, and being forced to let go. One cannot put these emotions into a spoken script, but rather in an actor who can express it as we need to see it.
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Enjoyable whimsy despite its bigger flaws
perkypops21 August 2011
There are many parallels to other twisty, turning, "are they alive or dead?" films of this genre that probably do it at lot better but Burr Steers effort is undeniably entertaining. He has some great acting from Charlie Tahan in particular to raise the rating a notch or two too.

The opening is neatly crafted as back story explaining how brothers Charlie (Efron) and Sam (Tahan) are as inseparable in death as in life. Fast forward five years and we have the revelation of a gift Charlie may, or may not, have. The story takes over from there as a charmingly meandering exploration of promises, principles, reasons and deeply held beliefs. Zac Efron gives a goodish but slightly uneven presentation of the "man with a mission", his own worse enemy, but also one of his word. There are moments when Efron is very convincing but there are others when he seems to be going through the motions. What Charlie Tahan succeeds in doing is taking the simple and raw and keeping it simple and raw, something Efron needs to work on.

Amanda Crew is good as the romantic interest and there are a couple of cameos from Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta.

Now I will not plot spoil to reveal the bigger flaws in the script but I was not expecting a revelation to be made in quite the way it was, and at the time was left thinking - that's stupid it should have been done differently without spoiling the story - but that is show business for you! Overall it is a worthwhile film with a reasonable point to make. I give it seven out of ten.
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Engaging and heartfelt, if a bit pretty at times
Rachel Cobleigh31 July 2010
I enjoyed this movie, for what it tries to do. It's not trying to be an art-house Oscar-bait film. It's basically a story about a good man who loses himself to grief and how he recovers. The core message of letting go and moving on is a good one.

It's not a dumb, roll-your-eyes movie and it's not too clever. It sails the line between those two extremes, but manages to do so without being bland. There's a lot to enjoy here: Efron's excellent performance, Tahan's charm and chemistry with Efron, and Crew's solidity. Prew also has his moments, and although nobody manages to steal any scenes from Efron, they were all believable. I wish we could have seen a lot more of Basinger and Liotta, though, and Logue's relative lack of prettiness was actually a kind of relief.

Although the characters are clean, they still do foolish things, loose their tempers, and make poor choices about how to spend their lives. Personally, I'm not as moved by stories where the main character is a self-absorbed, self-destructive jerk who--no surprise--brings pain on him/herself and others and succumbs to the usual pitfalls: alcohol/drugs, meaningless sex, or general idiotic acting out. That might have made the movie "cooler" or made Efron seem edgier, but the story and character wouldn't have been as resonant for me. I can root for and identify with characters who are trying to do their best, to do the right thing, but it still leads them quite naturally into struggling with personal demons.

There's not much logic or explanation for Charlie's ability to interact with the dead physically. It's the conceit of the film and the whole plot falls apart without it, so if you're going to enjoy the story at all, you have to suspend that bit of disbelief. On the level of pushing emotional buttons, this film hits them pretty hard: everything from raw attraction (a nearly constant undertone) to outright laughing (I loved the running gag with the geese) to embarrassment (one scene shows how even someone as good-looking as Efron can fall completely flat on his face in an awkward blind-date situation) to aching from a sense of loss and separation and loneliness. I never actually got close to crying, but I certainly felt tugged (although more so with the Charlie/Sam relationship than with the Charlie/Tess relationship) more than once.

Clearly the main draw of this film is Efron. If you're going for Efron eye candy you'll get it in spades, but happily (despite the many reviews that sneer to the contrary), he actually spends most of the movie with his shirt on, so you have some hope of focusing on his face. Of course, easily a quarter of the scenes where he's got his shirt on, he's wet for one reason or another, so it doesn't actually help much. And even if you do manage to focus on his face, you again have to get past the "Damn, he's pretty!" reaction and focus on whatever emotions the character has. Happily, once you've invested that much effort, you find yourself caring about Charlie and responding to those emotions. The story is compelling because of Efron's acting, precisely because once you get past the pretty, there really is something there. When he finally does get around to taking off his shirt, it's not without reason, so at least you're not left laughing like you are with most of the embarrassing shirtless moments in the Twilight series.

Let me reiterate the part about the eye candy. There's lots of it. And not just the actors, but the indoor locations, the lighting, the framing, the ocean, the sailboats, the shoreline, even the sculptures in the graveyard. There's a gorgeous sculpture of a desolate angel crying on a gravestone near the end of the film. (Although there's a strange moment in the middle of the movie when the camera focuses on a child-angel gravestone for a little too long and you suddenly wonder if the movie is going to turn into a horror flick with the child-angel coming to life and terrorizing the townspeople. But the sensation passes, and you realize how clean the story is. Despite the fact that the main character talks to dead people, there's never a creepy sense of foreboding. It might have been more interesting if they'd taken it in that direction.) Perhaps the plot is a little bit predictable and the surprise twist isn't a huge surprise, but it does hit Charlie's character hard, and Efron and Crew make it work.

I gave it an 8 out of 10, because it mostly succeeds at what it tries to do. One interesting thing about it is that it tends to defy easy categorization. Is it a romance? A comedy? A tragedy? A star vehicle? A story about depression? A fable? A story about mental illness? A story about loss? A fantasy? A story about grieving? Predictable? Engaging? A thin excuse to watch pretty people standing in front of pretty things? Something with emotional resonance? The answer is yes. One thing I liked about it was the sheer variety of emotions that I experienced while I watched it. Small funny things happen alongside small moments of sadness, and vice versa. In that sense, it has resonance that dips below the pretty surface.
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Decisions, decisions! Mawkish or maudlin, mawkish or maudlin?
RichardSRussell-130 July 2010
Charlie St. Cloud (1:39, PG-13) — fantasy: supernatural; 3rd string; original

It's entirely possible that Zac Efron can really act. We may never know. He always plays the same character: a good-looking, sensitive, semi-credibly athletic, Boy Scouty high-school kid with Clairol-model floppy hair. He could do it in his sleep. He could do it on speed. He could do it on Ritalin. He may be able to do it after he's dead, and they just prop him up and let his corpse go thru the motions.

Speaking of which, here's what we know from the trailers. Charlie St. Cloud's kid brother Sam was killed in an accident, but Charlie had promised to play catch with him at dusk every day, and the kid's ghost keeps showing up expecting older bro to keep his word. Honorable Charlie does exactly that, as a result of which he drifts away from real life, which now notably includes a romantic interest, former classmate Tess Carroll (Amanda Crew), who wants to sail her sloop around the world and wouldn't mind Charlie's company on the trip. But Charlie can't let go.

Guess how this turns out. Final answer? Exactly right! You win!

There are a few additional wrinkles that you can pick up by actually sitting thru the whole movie. One is that this game of catch has been going on for an hour a day for over 1800 days now, and even after all that time neither kid can throw a baseball worth a damn. Another tidbit is that Charlie is able to talk to other dead people besides Sam. Also, he's artistic. And really, really sensitive. (Did I mention that already?)

So that leaves us with the only real dilemma posed by this low-wattage would-be tear- jerker: mawkish or maudlin, mawkish or maudlin?

Sam is played by the young actor Charlie Tahan, and even while watching the movie my mind kept drifting off to thots of what the on-set reaction would be when Director Burr Steers said something like "Charlie, you stand over here."; who, really, did he mean, the actor or the character? If the movie doesn't engage you enuf in the plot to keep these kinds of distractions from creeping in, it's not a good sign.

Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta are also in the pic, in separate scenes, for just a tad longer than it took you to read their names off the poster.

There's nothing egregiously offensive about this movie, it's just not worth seeing.
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The epitome of a Lifetime movie
MovieProductions10 August 2010
*1/2 out of (****)

Charlie St. Cloud, the film that bombed critically and financially, had to at least target a specific demographic, which typically consists of teeny boppers. Unfortunately, one of my guy friends had highly anticipated the film, so since nothing else that peeked my interest was playing, I decided to give the film a try. I literally had zero expectations. I didn't know whether to expect this great cinematic extravaganza or one of the most filthy, syrupy romances in cinematic history. Fortunately, Charlie St. Cloud isn't the latter, but alas, it's neither the former. My review is simply non-bias because I am not a Zac Efron hardcore worshiper yet I don't loathe the guy either. Basically, Charlie St. Cloud is a syrupy, melodramatic piece of filmmaking. The plot is rather bitter and cliché, the performances are pretty much standard, and the picture offers nothing new in terms of originality or entertainment. I'd go as far as saying that this was a pretty terrible film. If one must have their thirst quenched, a rental is the most sufficient.

Charlie St. Cloud revolves around the namesake character who shares a strong bond with his brother Sam Cloud. Unfortunately, Charlie and his brother get into a severe car accident. Alas, Charlie's brother passes away in the unusual car incident and now Charlie has to cope with the death of a brother. Strangely, Charlie starts hallucinating his brother after the tragic situation. Albeit, is Sam really alive or just an image in Charlie's mind? Meanwhile, Charlie starts to go head over heals with this woman sailor. However, will Charlie's relationship deteriorate the wall Charlie built for his bondage with his brother?

First off, the plot is simply contrived and paint-by-numbers. The script is somewhat identical to Shyamalan's film "The Sixth Sense" because of the picture's last thirty minutes. Moreover, the whole "girlfriend-interfering-with-friendship" situation has been done to death. Furthermore, the relationship portrayed in the film is as formulaic and disposable as the viewer has been witnessed to countless times before. Additionally, the acting is nothing to write home about. Zac Efron gives a decent performance and Amanda Crew gives a passable performance as well. To top it off, the pacing of this film is uninteresting. There were moments that seemed so tedious that switching theater chairs would have been a more preferable choice instead. Also, the film is painfully anti-climactic and melodramatic. I get that this film is suppose to be depressing, but the film milked its tear-jerking moments and even those, felt so predictable and dry, that it comes off as a gimmick rather than tragic.

While the cons outweigh the pros, there are still some nifty things about the film. For starters, the cinematography is just eye-popping and simply gorgeous. Furthermore, the bondage between the two brothers is the only thing that caught my attention. To add to that, the film's opening twenty minutes or so were actually pretty intriguing and not too bad.

Overall, it's highly improbable that Charlie St. Cloud will walk home with a Razzie, although it certainly won't walk home with my money again. The film could have been passable entertainment but it's another paint-by-numbers flick that rather than coming off sincere and touching, it sadly, comes off as gimmicky and a quick buck. I'm surprised this film was on the radar for green lighting. This type of film has Lifetime written all over it. Let me put it to you this way: Charlie St. Cloud is like that dopey Hallmark "get well" card which contents are so dry delivering that it's like beating a dead horse. Okay, maybe my criticism is a tad preposterous, but I just want to get the message across that this is another cliché Hollywood film. Here's a little game for all my fellow readers. If you had a nickel for every time I made my 3rd last sentence of the review, could you make your own movie?
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Quite the disappointment...
wizardofroz1331 July 2010
Like most Americans, I have found myself bewitched by Zac Efron; his stunningly blue eyes, his sullen good looks and his perfectly tousled hair make him a great leading man. But alas, not even his good looks could save this film.

The premise is interesting enough, a senior in high school who has the world on a string suddenly finds himself plunging down a path of apathy and regret after the death of his 12 year old brother. This is quite hard to believe, however, due to the poor relationship Charlie (Efron) has with his little brother. In the scenes before young Sam dies, the two don't seem to share any fraternal bond. So, when we find out that 5 years after Sam's death Charlie is grounds keeper at the cemetery and plays catch with his dead brother every night, I thought it ridiculous. Efron plays Charlie the same way both before and after Sam dies: completely apathetic and nearly removed from the screen. There is a twist towards the end of the film that makes the plot even more difficult to grasp. It is very difficult to empathize with Charlie at this point.

Ray Liotta has a tiny, tiny part which should have been developed much more fully. Kim Basinger is totally forgettable. Efron's love interest, Amanda Crew, is very hard to like. The film hardly explores her character and I found myself responding to her supposedly dramatic scenes very negatively. The young actor who plays Sam does an okay job. He tries to be the awe-struck younger brother but Efron doesn't give him enough to work with.

Overall, I feel as though this movie was mishandled. In the hands of either a more sensitive director and/or cast, this could have been very touching coming of age film. Sadly, it's far from it.

One redeeming quality is that the scenery is beautiful. The lush forest and ocean water surrounding the cemetery and town are magnificent.

If you really want to see this movie, I'd say wait. Wait to rent or see it at the dollar theater or until you just totally forget about it.
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Zac Efron should just give up
Nikolai Schiller3 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Charlie St. Cloud Review: A young teenager's younger brother is killed in a car accident and the when running away from his funeral, he finds his brothers ghost and they play catch. But of course, Charlie meets a girl and now he has to choose between the girl and the stupid kid. Amazingly terrible story that makes no logical sense what so ever. Put a lot of effort into making us think and feel that his younger brother was a ghost. Not. It was just awful acting to and it was really over-done and over-rated. I don't know what this film was trying to achieve but its just going to go down from here. See my Despicable Me Review and my Salt review. Charlie St. Cloud is terrible! Do not see, you will have wasted your money!
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I kiiiinda liked it.......
earleywinejamie30 July 2010
I went to this movie with my girlfriend, not JUSTTTT because she wanted to, but because I was also interested in seeing this sad tale. The previews looked good and I'm not a guy who's afraid to watch some "sappy" love/drama film. I give props to Zac Efron because that dude can really act (and cry). He has the ability to make the audience feel the pain and hardships he is going through in his own life and he is very good at toning down some of the cheesy screenplay with his own experience as a well-achieved and believable actor. The kid who played his brother Sam was also GREAT for being cast at such a young age. They had a realistic bond and it perfectly personified the true relationship of any brotherly comradeship. Girls, if your looking for a sad/happy ending, zac efrons shirtless body, and a movie that will make your eyes tear up then this is the movie for you.
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How not to make a "I see dead people", drama, teen drama, semi-comedy movie
Wes Lambert11 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Charlie St. Cloud" starring Zac Efron is the story of the title character and how he deals with the loss of his younger brother, Sam, (Charlie Tahan) in a car accident made even worse by the fact that Charlie is driving. Seemingly from beyond the grave or only in Charlie's mind, Sam shows up every day for a promised baseball lesson. We flash forward five years and Charlie has given up on college, his love of sailing and become the town recluse all to make his daily appointment with Sam.

From my title of my post you may have picked up on the fact that I think "Charlie St. Cloud" is a awkward mismatch of ideas that don't necessarily fare well in the same movie. Self-editing is a valuable skill that would serve the creative forces behind this movie very well. There are three, possibly four distinct story lines going here including a missed opportunity at a supernatural drama. I don't think any of them succeed because it doesn't appear this movie knows what it wants to be.

As far as acting, Efron has a charming face and disposition that lends well to the humor but not so much the drama. You can practically see him straining in the first part of the movie to keep up with the movie's over the top dramatics. It's further proof to me that Hollywood finds us a bit dense and believes we need a trail of bread crumbs leading to the obvious. In this case the obvious is that the sudden loss of a young family member is tragic. Of course you cannot have Zac Efron as your lead without some romance. Charlie attracts the interest of Tess (Amanda Crew), a young woman training for a round the globe sailing trip. I hate to be harsh but my biggest criticism is for Amanda Crew. She has a delivery so flat as to suck any spark or chemistry out of the scenes between Charlie and Tess. Since I'm really trashing this movie, I will give some props to Charlie Tahan who plays Sam. He is genuinely funny and at times conveys the sadness embodied by his character. Have I made this sound so terrible? There is an audience for this movie but I don't think that includes people like me who take a cynical view about the state of creativity in film.
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Family Values.
jayleshd17 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
If you are family orientated person, whom believes in putting the family first and going the extra miles, this is for you.

Zac Efron's performance is excellent and I can't find any faults.

The story is of a brothers commitment to preserve his younger brothers memory by becoming a cemetery caretaker. By doing so, he takes care of his brothers grave and others and makes it his purpose to visit his brother everyday at the same place for many years regardless of his own ambitions.

The interaction between the characters is emotional.

It is also a thinking movie and allows you to learn coping with the loss of a loved one and how the process of letting go occurs. This was very well handled.

Thumbs up!
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A movie that bases on ghosts and a relationship equals an OK script.
mg3-926-81685718 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This movie I have to say was not the best of the bunch. Zac Efron delivers his best performance in a movie since its proved he can be serious, yet that doesn't save the film from being bad.The plot goes on Charlie losing his little brother and then he can see ghosts since he was in a near death experience and then he falls in love and blah blah blah. Boring. The book was such a great one, that has been transformed into a lacking movie. The ending left you wanting and not wanting for more. You want to find out, yet since it bored you, you might just leave it like how it is. Overall like I had said before, the movie is plain and simple with nothing special. I just wished it would have been more interesting just like the trailer was.
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