Charlie St Cloud is a character driven drama, featuring characters who have very little character and who spend a lot of time on their boats.
So if you like boats and you’re absolutely crazy about Zac Efron, you might find this movie bearable. Just.
Charlie lives with his divorced mother and younger brother, Sam. One night, Charlie gives Sam a ride, they get hit by a drunk driver, Sam is killed, Charlie survives.
Cut to five years later, Sam tends graves for a living and lives in a wooden hut in a cemetery. Charlie has kept a promise he made to Sam just before the accident, that he would meet him every night at sunset to practice ball.
Charlie imagines that Sam is really there with him and this keeps Charlie bound to the graveyard.
It is very difficult to enjoy a film when the main character is cast in the role of martyr, filled with angst and has no one to interact with emotionally.
And is having Zac’s eyes fill with tears most of the time, on the verge of a really big blub, such a good idea?
As Universal are probably relying on Efron’s fans to fill the theatres, mightn’t the girls think he’s a bit of a cry baby?
Or is it that the likes of Eastwood and Schwarzenegger are gone forever, and the machismo that was once common currency has been replaced by movie stars who are in touch with their feminine side? So, if that’s the case, are we going to have to replace our flat tires ourselves?
A film can be completely lacking in originality and still work. Ordinary People has a similar storyline to Charlie St Cloud but runs on so many rivers of emotion every moment is compelling.
This film spends a lot of time with Charlie talking to Sam, which feels like we’re just marking time and reminds us that we’ve seen this scenario a million times before.
Hollywood is famous for the ‘Elevator Pitch’ – you meet a studio exec in the elevator, you’ve got 30 seconds to sell your idea before he gets off at the next floor. With the Charlie St Cloud script, I can only assume it went like this:
Writer, ‘It’s a really fantastic script about a boy who can’t get over the death of his brother”
Studio Exec, “It doesn’t sound fantastic to me. And it sounds dark. We don’t like dark. No one wants to see it. And we don’t want people dying. Death is out right now. We want happy stuff. You know, people having a good time. With the economy, people are going to the movies to feel better. It’s definitely not for us”
Writer, “I’ve got Zac Efron attached”
Studio Exec, “I’ll have your contract ready in an hour”
UK Release date: 8th October, 200
US Release date: 30th July, 2010
Starring: Zac Efron
Featuring: Kim Bassinger (screen time, 3 minutes) and Ray Liotta