Friday, July 30, 2010

Film Yap: Charlie St. Cloud

In the contest of films from 2010 that have a contrived and manipulative young romance with an inappropriate twist in it, Charlie St. Cloud wins a silver medal. Please note there are only two entries so far this year.

It will be very difficult for a movie to be lower than St. Cloud because this movie prides itself in being baby food. It used to be regular food, but it was meshed up and now its end result is just gross. Yet the film still insists on shoveling spoonful after spoonful at you, equipped with the condescending airplane noises.

Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is the greatest human being on the planet. He is the perfect yacht racer and the perfect brother to Sam (Charlie Tahan). Everyone around him keeps telling Charlie that he is going to go on to great and wonderful things. Sam keeps talking about how great they are together and how happy they are. Nothing can possibly go wrong!

Charlie makes a bizarre promise to Sam saying that every day at sunset he will play catch with him for one hour until he goes to Stanford. (Oh he’s also perfect at baseball.) They repeat this promise verbatim several times throughout the movie to further stress the point that nothing can possibly go wrong in their lives. So they get into a car accident and Sam dies. Charlie technically dies too, but the paramedic (Ray Liotta) doesn’t belief in lost causes and tries the defibrillator and that wakes up Charlie.

Not more than two movie minutes after Sam dies, Charlie runs into the woods out of angst and sees his ghost brother ready to play catch. The audience has no time to ever miss Sam, which would be difficult considering he was quite a brat throughout the movie. So Charlie plays catch with Sam FOR FIVE YEARS. That’s over 1800 games of catch.

During that time Charlie has become more emotionally unstable. His mom (Kim Basinger) moves for no particular reason. He doesn’t go to college and decides to work at the graveyard where his brother was buried. This is a very subtle movie. The town has noticed that Charlie has paused his life because of grief so every single character tells him this. Even the paramedic comes back and tells Charlie exactly what he needs to do with his life.

What he needs to do is fall in love and learn how to live again. He starts up a romance with Tess (Amanda Crew), a girl who is also excellent at sailing. (Not as good as Charlie though). She’s planning to sail around the world in a race. Before she goes she learns more about Charlie and a romance beings. By the way we learn that Charlie is a perfect cook, artist, and doctor. He’s also in perfect shape and is constantly shirtless. (Did you notice part of his name is “saint”?)

This movie is baby food because it doesn't trust the audience at any point during the movie. Every line of dialog is used only for foreshadowing or bluntly repeating its message over and over and over again. In this world there is no such thing as subtext and this overt simplification ruins this movie.

A lot of people like to riff on Zac Efron, but I do believe that he is a good actor. He has a natural charisma and knows how to handle a strong range of emotions. He’s fine in this movie, but he’s forced to say lines that are hammier than anything he had to say in High School Musical. This is not the sort of movie to show off his skills, because it’s the worst type of character study. The characters in this film are Charlie St. Cloud and ensemble. There is not one other character that is even 2-demenisional. He can bounce or clash with anyone, because each character is designed only to give him blunt and repetitive advice.

Since I referenced it in the opening, there is a twist halfway thought this movie. It makes absolutely no sense and makes one scene incredibly inappropriate. It’s just gross, Splice gross.

1 Yap

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