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Charlie St. Cloud Trailer
Wonder Bread Ghost Story
Posted on February 9, 2011 | Back to Movies and Television
Here be spoilers.
Charlie St. Cloud is the story of two brothers. It is based on the 2004 bestselling novel by Ben Sherword entitled The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. The older bother is Charles Percival St. Cloud (seriously). The younger one is Sammy St. Cloud (yeah, really). They are both white and rich. Well, sort of rich. Apparently, in the New England town where they live, they are rich enough to participate in the annual regatta (they have their own yacht) but not rich enough to have trust funds (because their father ran out on them). Charlie is getting ready to go to Stanford where he is sure to have an amazing academic career, because he's just that kind of guy. Sammy's planning to help take his baseball team to the finals, because he's just that kind of guy, too. And on top of it all, both Charlie and Sammy are impossibly good-looking. Charlie looks a lot like actor and teenage dream machine Zac Efron. And Sammy (played by Charlie Tahan) also looks at lot like actor and teenage dream machine Zac Efron, if Zac Efron was eleven instead of a strapping twenty.
Do you hate them yet? I do.
In fact, Charlie and Sammy St. Cloud appear to be so well-off in so many ways that it seems unlikely that anything bad could or ever has happened to them. From the first moments of this film, they are unsympathetic characters and as bland as Wonder Bread.
But then Sammy dies in a tragic car accident while Charlie was driving and you feel bad for about two minutes. Fortunately, Sammy's now a ghost and Charlie can see him (and a bunch of other ghosts as well) and apparently this is no big deal to either of them. There's nothing unusual or creepy or even dramatic about it all. It's all very ordinary as the two brothers have daily reunions where they toss around a baseball in a forested glen.
Sure, the townfolk whisper about how Charlie St. Cloud gave up a brilliant college career and started working at the graveyard and became "weird." But he's not really weird, because he's immaculately groomed and impossibly handsome. Weird people who hang around graveyards mourning their dead brothers for years are generally poor hygienic specimens with strained interpersonal relationships. As you watch Efron hobble through his performance in this movie, you may project how more experienced, less teen-throbby actors would have handled the role. Let's face it, if Brad Pitt had played the lead, he would have smeared shit all over himself to punctuate Charlie St. Cloud's descent into madness and disguise his own handsomeness. But Zac Efron is a Tiger Beat favorite, so he's not allowed to be too weird or too ugly. Apparently, he's not even allowed to cry more than once over the lost brother with whom he is supposedly obsessed. The real shame of all this is that Efron is a very talented guy. He acts, sings, dances... and does it all very well. I'm still waiting for that breakout film where he really shows us what a great actor he is, instead of reliving the polished Disney product he used to be. Sadly, this film did not deliver.
After five years of playing catch with ghostly Sam in the forest, young Charlie meets a pretty girl named Tess (Amanda Crew) who also sails yachts in the regatta and is obsessively mourning her dead father. (How lucky is that!) She doesn't play catch with her phantom dad, but she does hang out way too much in the graveyard where Charlie works. Fortunately for them, none of their more morbid personality traits get in the way of their smoking hot romance.
But then Tess is lost at sea and presumed dead by everyone but Charlie. After all, Charlie has some weird connection to The Other Side and he is able to know psychically how to find Tess's lost yacht. (Why doesn't someone recruit this guy to find Amelia Earhart, for god's sake!) So he finds Tess and saves her from death, something he wasn't able to do with Sammy. The younger brother takes it all very well, because apparently he's no longer the frightened, insecure ghost of an eleven-year old boy who misses Charlie and just can't bring himself to go into the light. Instead he's become an enlightened sage ala Obi Wan Kenobi. There's an appalling exchange between the brothers at the end of the film when they finally part company:
Sammy: I'm okay Charlie. I'd give anything for you to see me. What I've become, but no one ever gets to see what could have been.
Charlie: Sorry I had to break our deal.
Sammy: It was time. It's beyond anything we ever imagined Charlie.
Charlie: I hurt as bad as the day you died.
Sammy: You hurt because you're alive.
Charlie: We'll always be brothers.
Sammy: Promise, everyday, come rain or shine, through Hell or high water?
Charlie: ...I promise.
Well, thank god that's over.
Charlie St. Cloud is available on DVD and Netflix for anyone who just wants to watch Zac Efron be handsome.