Charlie St Cloud [aka Death & Life Of Charlie St Cloud] Movie Review
Charlie (Efron) is a golden boy with a sailing scholarship to Stanford, an adoring little brother (Tahan) and a glamorous, hard-working single mum (Basinger). But when Sam dies in a car crash, Charlie spends the next five years wallowing in his grief. He's also able to see dead people, including Sam, whom he meets every evening for baseball practice in the woods near the cemetery where he works as caretaker. Then adventure sailor Tess (crew) returns to town to prepare for a round-the-world race and suddenly Charlie is doubting his lonely life.
Efron is a likable and gifted actor, and his skill transcends the film's overpowering warm glow. Although he's also perhaps too gorgeous to be the town nutjob, with his often muscled torso often shirtless and/or wet. His loyal fanbase will love this, but it seriously undermines both the premise and Efron's emotionally resonant performance. The supporting cast is also good in much thinner-defined characters, including Crew's wisecracking Russell Brand-alike.
But the film is doomed from the start by Enrique Chediak's overwrought cinematography, which never stops swooping through the sky or seeking out beams of sunlight long. And Rolfe Kent's score is even worse, telegraphing every "surprise" with a sweep of screaming violins. So the plot's one surprise is painfully obvious very early on. The result is a film with a decent cast but not a single believable scene.
Underlying all of this is a script that piles on the cliches in a never-ending attempt to coax a badly animated tear from our eye. There's a strong story and some very good acting buried in this flood of ruthless sentimentality. And when a film is as pushy as this one, it's impossible to engage with anything. So while the cast members escape with their dignity intact, any audience member who actually enjoys this film should hang their head in shame.