I feel like I was the most excited person in the world for this movie when it came out in 2010. More than Zac Efron’s mom even. More than the unknown actor who finally got an IMDB page out of it. I was so excited, and it has been in my queue (the only word in the English language which if you remove the last three letters still sounds the same) ever since. I even started it at my boyfriend’s house a little while back, but then he woke up and I never made it past the opening credits. So NOW that I’ve sprained my ankle and need to be in bed all day all the time, what better time to capitalize on this immobility and sadness!
So I watched this movie and it was bad. So very bad. How was it this bad?? Kim Basinger in it, Ray Liotta is in it, Dave Franco, Donal Logue, everyone’s in it! Zac Efron even plays a grief stricken character trying to reclaim his life and I love that!!! But it wasn’t enough.
If you are unfamiliar with the plot, congratulations. Zac Efron plays Charlie St. Cloud, an adventurous boater (I’m SURE they call them sailors but he doesn’t deserve that) who in the first scene of the movie wins a prestigious race, and with it a boating scholarship (Hello ladies) to Princeton or Stanford or some other Ivy League college in New England where boating is a sport. So he’s on top of the world! With him for the win is his little brother Sam who, established through a lot of arm punches and rogue winks, Charlie has a teasing but close relationship with.
Also at the race: two assholes whose personality traits are “rich” and a girl who is into sailing and Charlie but only feels comfortable expressing the former. They all mingle kind of at the party after the race, then life goes on. We see that Charlie is graduating high school, his mom is kind of poor and embarrassed about it (“I hope this outfit is alright for your graduation, it’s all I have”), but also smart and hard-working (I got another shift at the hospital tonight”).
She (Kim Basinger, mom) leaves Charlie on “Sam-duty” (which sounds disgusting) and promises to bring them doughnuts in the morning. Charlie tries to sneak out but his little brother is waiting for him in the driveway all decked out in baseball gear because he wants Charlie to drop him at the stadium to catch the end of the game? I don’t remember but he wants him to take him somewhere where it would make sense that he’s literally wearing a catchers mitt. Charlie protests but eventually gives in and they are off. There is some light fighting in the car, but nothing compared to the semi-truck that hits them.
Blam! The huge 18 wheeler t-bones them on Sam’s side and Ray Liotta is the paramedic on the scene. He brings Charlie back from the dead (his heart flatlined for a while) but with the help of Ray’s St. Jude pendant which he kisses meaningfully, he is alive. But this miracle is short lived and under appreciated because when Efron wakes up he realizes his brother is dead.
They have the funeral, then the next scene is Charlie working in a graveyard (yes, a graveyard) and we find out it is five years later. His mom has moved to Portland, (because what do you do when you lose a son? Move away from your other one!) and he has deferred from Yale and he has not sailed a boat in five years. Charlie has a British friend who works at the graveyard with him and wishes he would fuck more girls (think how many men would be better off if their friends pushed therapy on them the way they do casually fucking women!) which Charlie isn’t into.
Charlie and his friend lament/talk for a while about this pack of geese that is a nuisance in the cemetery because their shit corrodes the tombstones (there’s probably some allegory there that I don’t care enough to explore/unpack) but then a girl comes up who’s angry about how all the flowers on her father’s tombstone are dead (understandable) then there is a moment of recognition and we see it’s Tess (the boat girl)! Charlie sheepishly agrees to replant the flowers and we go to another scene. But get ready, because this one is the first of many scenes where Charlie and Tess are expressing feelings (both bridled and un) in a graveyard.
A lot more stuff happens that’s honestly too boring to numerate, it’s a lot about boats which I care nothing about, and Charlie letting down his dead brother (we get it!) and some more about boats. Way way too much about boats. Even people who sail were probably like, “Okay, enough with the boats” when watching this. One thing I forgot to mention is that a la a meaningless promise (and a little movie magic!) made the day Sam died, Charlie goes every day to a clearing in the forest at sunset (when the town ceremoniously shoots off canons. Could this town be any more New England??) where he they meet (he and his dead brother) and they practice baseball. Nothing manlier than rejecting the death of your brother while playing baseball.
So Charlie starts to get close to Tess (they make out in the graveyard and have sex in his house surrounded by boxes of his dead brother’s possessions) but GASP she’s about to leave on a 6 month solo sailing trip around the world-what unfortunate timing! But you know what’s even worse timing? Her death! Yes, Tess went missing and we see a spirit version of her that only Charlie can communicate with so we assume she’s dead but this was just a movie trick. She’s not dead, he finds her and saves her but in doing so has to miss the “meeting” with his (already dead) brother so now he’s gone “forever.”
So he finds her and keeps her alive with body heat, then they live happily ever after on a baseball that floats around the world or something. I hated this movie. It was so boring!! Everyone died but then were still in the movie. And Zac Efron gets forgiven his creepy Ken Doll vibe when he’s at least kind of funny but when he’s just being serious and talking about boats for two hours? No ma’am.
1 out of 5 St. Jude pendants, tried to masturbate, fell asleep, woke up on a boat.