When did Zac Efron become such a hottie? It wasn't too long ago that Efron was a kid starring in the Disney Channel's High School Musical series, waiting for his voice to change. Suddenly, my girlfriends and I realized that Efron is a handsome dude. His piercing blue eyes and washboard abs contribute to grown women drooling over the 22-year-old hunk and we feel less pervy about it than when we ogle 18-year-old Taylor Lautner from the Twilight series. Now, if only he wouldn't use his leading-man looks to star in movies like Charlie St. Cloud.
Efron plays the title character in the odd melodrama based on the novel The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood. The backdrop for the story is a sibling death. Efron's Charlie is at the wheel of a car during an accident that takes the life of his brother, Sam. The film skips forward five years and we find Charlie as the caretaker at the cemetery where Sam is buried, having deferred a sailing scholarship to Stanford - seriously. It's not just grief that keeps Charlie's vigil alive. He somehow plays catch with his dead brother every night. Not surprisingly the whole town thinks he's crazy.
As far as melodramas go, this one is lackluster. My friends warned me to bring a box of tissues because the trailer for St. Cloud made it look like a sob fest. I didn't shed one tear and I think Efron may have only let one fall. In a tragedy like this, you would expect more emotion. What seemed strange to me is that he couldn't let go of his brother, but his mom moves to Portland and he doesn't even return her phone calls. Support your mother, Charlie.
Being able to see and speak to the dead is a tired metaphor for not being able to move on with your life after losing a loved one, but one redeeming factor in this film is the twist with Charlie's love interest Tess, played by Amanda Crew. Without giving away the ending, Charlie finally realizes the reason his life was spared.
With his leading man looks and inability to display emotions, perhaps Efron should trade in the heart-on-his-sleeve act for some big guns and transition into being an action star. Or maybe Efron could team up with Lautner and do a buddy cop movie, because as evidenced by Charlie St. Cloud, Efron isn't meant to be emo.
Charlie St. Cloud
Starring Zac Efron, Amanda Crew
Directed by Burr Steers