Charlie St. Cloud: Movie Review & Sneak Peak!
About a month ago, I received an invitation to see a private screening of the new film Charlie St. Cloud, starring Zac Efron, Amanda Crew, Kim Basinger and Charlie Tahan about two brothers who are reunited in an unbelievable way after a tragic accident claims one of their lives. Since I'm a sucker for sad movies, I took my seat in the private screening room at Universal and sat there shedding tears among strangers.
Much like Field of Dreams, you have to suspend your imagination as you enter a world where the living can connect with those who are no longer with us. In a word, "Charlie St. Cloud" is breathtaking. From the brilliant cinematography, to the powerful bond between the two brothers, to an intense and surreal romance, the film will make you want to hold on tight to the ones you love, while contemplating reconnecting with those you've lost.
In a nutshell, Charlie has only blue skies ahead of him when he graduates high school and earns a full sailing scholarship to Stanford University. His younger brother Sam, is sad that his older brother is going to be leaving him after the summer, but Charlie assures him that he will practice baseball with him every evening at 6 pm when the cannons sound until he leaves for college. Sadly, something terrible happens to Charlie and Sam and the dreams that both had for the future are snatched away in an instant.
The film is a departure for Zac Efron, who is best known for his lighter movie fare from "High School Musical" to "17 Again" (which incidentally, I loved!) In "Charlie St. Cloud," Efron turns in an award-worthy performance as he manages to make female audiences swoon and sob all in the same moment.
I also was amazed by the performance of Charlie Tahan, an 11 year old actor who hails from New Jersey who clearly connected with his character Sam even though in an interview, he admitted he was not much of a baseball player but more interested in extreme sports like skateboarding. Charlie Tahan will have moms everywhere holding on to their boys just a little bit tighter after they see this film. In fact, I was lucky enough to be in the same theater as Charlie when he saw the movie for the first time with his mom. He didn't know I was there, but as I watched the credits roll, I heard a burst of applause from the front row when his name flashed across the screen. When asked if his mom cried during the film, he said she did shed some tears, but she even cried at the end of the Sponge Bob Movie!
I'm sure you're wondering if this movie is appropriate for families and here's my take. I believe it's appropriate for tweens but not for children under the age of 10. Make sure you prepare your kids that something really tragic is going to happen in the film and then after the movie, talk about it with them. While the storyline might be intense, I think kids will really appreciate the relationship between Charlie and Sam and compare it to their own experiences. And, if they like to read, then have them pick up a copy of "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," by Ben Sherwood. Ben wrote the book nearly five years ago and never expected his novel would wind up on the big screen.
More to come including our interview with Zac Efron, Charlie Tahan, Amanda Crew, the director, Burr Steers (who also directed "17 Again" and author, Ben Sherwood. For now...check out this sneak peak clip and get ready when Charlie St. Cloud hits theaters July 30!