Charlie St. Cloud (Universal Pictures, PG-13)

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Zac Efron’s rocking bod shots and Burr Steers’ melodramatic CGI embellishments distracts an audience from what the film could have been.


Zac Efron has always been the saint of metrosexuality, and now he attempts to be St. Cloud. This film adaptation of The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood has an emotion-filled premise. Yet, it seems like the only reason director Burr Steers made it into a movie was so Efron’s mug could grace the cover of the novel. His rocking bod shots and Steers’ melodramatic CGI embellishments distracts an audience from what the film could have been.
Charlie St. Cloud also had a chance to find purpose. He and his little brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) live with a hardworking single mother (Kim Basinger) on the picturesque Massachusetts coast. The brothers are a perfect team, both on and off their prizewinning sailboat; however, their tight relationship turns grim when they become victims of a drunk driving accident the night of Charlie’s graduation. A paramedic (Ray Liotta) gives Charlie a miraculous second chance at life. Instead of using his Stanford sailing scholarship, he becomes the caretaker of his hometown’s cemetery where he can spend every sunset playing catch with his brother’s ghost. Five years pass and his hermit habits slowly turn him into a ghost of a person, causing people around town to dub him the town loon. After meeting a sailing beauty, Tess (Amanda Crew), Charlie gains inspiration to find meaning in his survival.
As the main protagonist, Efron takes off his acting training wheels; it is safe to say that many people will want to see Charlie St. Cloud because of him. Unfortunately, he hasn’t completely graduated from his High School Musical image. While he cracks some silly Disney-ish jokes, he tries to expose himself as an adult actor. Still, it is almost impossible to take someone seriously when they have chronic hard nipples, especially when those hard nipples end up in a wet, white shirt; Efron’s pecs attempt to steal the show. I imagine Steers poured ice cubes down his shirt at the beginning of each scene. Just because Efron is a sexy star, don’t overly take advantage of his good looks.
Efron’s chest wasn’t Steers’ only awkward move. Though the film is a romantic drama, he uses some intense CGI. A few of his transitions were surprisingly good and the landscapes were gorgeous—gorgeous enough to seem fake. During a few pans of the tree-filled coastline and sunset horizon, this felt like an animated movie. There was even a fake teardrop effect that looked ridiculous. These kinds of production choices should enhance a film, not take away from it.
Charlie St. Cloud is probably better in its novel form. Its emotional pace makes it feel more suitable for a stage version than an adaptation for the big screen. At least then the audience wouldn’t be forced to stare at Efron’s muscles and strange coastal CGI arrangements. Based on this film, it looks as if Steers’ ship has sailed. | Alice Telios

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