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Efron Ages Gracefully

The only reason I went to see Charlie St. Cloud was because the 3D showing of Cats and Dogs wasn’t worth the $14 ticket. The idea of watching a Zac Efron movie (in my head, anything Zac Efron was synonymous with High School Musical) for close to two hours was unbearable at best. Shortly after the film started, however, I discovered just how wrong I had been.

The story line of Charlie St. Cloud was far from the humor of Seventeen Again or the preppy song and dance sequences of the High School Musical trilogy. Charlie St. Cloud (Efron) gives up his scholarship, his sailing, and his life after witnessing the death of his younger brother, Sam (Charlie Tahan). Since Charlie also died the night of the crash, but was revived by a paramedic, he has the ability to see the spirits of dead people who have not moved on, including Sam. For five years, Charlie met Sam’s spirit each day at sunset to practice baseball. As can be seen in the trailer, Charlie eventually meets a girl and begins to get caught between the pull of real life and the pull of his younger brother.

Although the plot became rather predictable at certain points in the movie, the few sudden twists continued to make it interesting and sad. Efron pulled through, surprising me with his hidden depth and levels of talent. He conveyed Charlie’s difficult choices with a skill that made his character relatable to the audience. When stuck between the choice of moving on or turning back to his brother, both Charlie’s and Sam’s emotions were conveyed well. The love between the two brothers poured off the screen. The obvious connection between the two actors made the movie believable. The story managed to keep my attention to the very end, where my heart broke as Sam talked to Charlie for the last time.

Charlie St. Cloud definitely does not fit into the mold of the typical action-packed, stupid humor or pre-teen vampire films plaguing theaters the past few years. I would definitely recommend giving this movie a chance. If you can watch Zac Efron for a few hours without breaking into a chorus of “We’re All in This Together,” then you may be pleasantly surprised at the excellent plot and heart-wrenching characters that make up Charlie St. Cloud.

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