Efron stares in 'Charlie St. Cloud'
Charlie St. Cloud is a movie with a message, and that is, "Zac
Efron has blue eyes."
This maudlin tearjerker is packed with what can only be called "stare sequences," featuring High School Musical alum Efron gazing dreamily into the distance.
If those eyes expressed depth, emotion or better yet a combination of the two, this could be acceptable. But they're just blue. A little too blue. So blue that... oh, the hell with it.
Efron plays the titular character, an Ivey League-bound overachiever who leads a pleasant enough life with his little brother/best friend, Sam (Charlie Tahan, I Am Legend), and their hardworking single mom (Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential).
College-bound on a full scholarship (Charlie's an expert yachtsman), his plans go for naught when Sam is killed by a drunk driver. Though both brothers are thought dead at the scene, Charlie is miraculously resuscitated en route to the hospital.
Five years pass, but Charlie's memories haven't. Still grieving and confused as to why he was spared over Sam, Charlie skipped college to remain in his small Massachusetts hamlet, working as caretaker of the cemetery in which Sam is buried.
Furthermore, Charlie's miraculous recovery resulted in a curious ability - he can see and talk to ghosts, including Sam's, with whom he plays catch every afternoon.
With his mother having since left the state, Charlie has become a social pariah, due to his standoffish and peculiar behavior - until former high school classmate and ambitious yachtswoman Tess (Amanda Crew, The Haunting in Connecticut) sparks his interest.
Now, Charlie must decide between living in the past, as is, or embracing life by moving on and letting go of his ghosts - in this case, quite literally.
Charlie St. Cloud is a strange little film, riddled with ghosts, made-for-TV romance, some beautiful scenery (filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia) and a dash of Ray Liotta (GoodFellas).
At times sincere, but most of the time contrived, Charlie St. Cloud addresses some serious issues in an absurdly hackneyed manner. In a film about a young man coping with death, loss and failure, the protagonist needs more than just a pretty face, and while Efron obviously tries his best, he just doesn't have what it takes.
As Sam, young Tahan delivers a fairly convincing performance, but Charlie's stronger cast members, namely Basinger and Liotta, seem to have been lost on the cutting room floor, replaced with even more Efron stare sequences.
Rather than focus on character development, a crucial element in drama, director Burr Steers (17 Again) literally focuses on the stoic Efron, who seems as detached from the film as his character is from reality.
Steers obviously sacrificed substance for style, and it shows in the unintentionally laughable dialogue, two-dimensional characters, and... did I mention that Zac Efron has blue eyes?
Charlie St. Cloud, rated PG-13 for language, including some sexual references, an intense accident scene and some sensuality, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.