Accomplished sailor Charlie St. Cloud has the adoration of mother Claire and little brother Sam, as well as a college scholarship that will lead him far from his sleepy Pacific Northwest hometown. But his bright future is cut short when a tragedy strikes and takes his dreams with it.
Before approaching The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud, I tried as hard as possible to remember what it was like to be a sentimental 14 year old girl, as a cynical 30-something feminist is clearly not the target audience for this film.
The film tells the story of (in the words of the besotted female characters) the “mysterious”, “tortured” and “sensitive” Charlie St Cloud, who is racked with guilt after the car-crash that killed his 11-year-old brother, and with whom he makes a post-death deal to meet in the clearing of a cemetery every night at sunset to practice catch (sorry – baseball).
Now, at 14 I may not have possessed the heart of stone I do now, but even making allowances for that, I was already losing interest quicker than the make-up department were losing the gallons of fake tears they sent coursing down Zac Efron’s chiselled jawline. Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta obviously felt the same as after a combined total of around 15 minutes screen-time, and a heartfelt declaration about God and His precious gift of life from Liotta, they were both long gone.
Once all the life-affirming messages are clearly stated and it is absolutely clear that Charlie St Cloud must find out what his destiny is, and why he survived when his brother didn’t, it is time for the love interest to make her appearance. And so our hero finds himself torn between moving on with his life by pursuing a relationship with the text-book all-American babe, and continuing to keep his nightly appointments tossing a ball around with his dead brother.
Now who am I to spoil the story by telling you what happens next…? (Oh – you guessed? – but how?!) Admittedly there is one twist, but accompanied by so many plot-holes I was almost gagging as the explanation unfolded.
The film fell into every tired cliché that has been used over and over in TV movies, with depressingly bland characters spouting lines that could have been written by a 6-year-old. I was only kept in my seat by the lethargy and apathy the film induced, and it is only with a serious heavy-duty crush on Zac Efron that I can imagine anyone managing to feel moved by this film. (On that note, for anyone who may be so afflicted, there are a couple of gratuitous wet-t-shirt shots of Efron.)
Unless you are suffering from insomnia and are looking for a cure, I would stay well away from this dull and predictable film.