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Preview review: Zac Efron drops the song-and-dance in 'Charlie St. Cloud'

May 18, 2010 | 10:57 am

Charlie_st_cloud05 It's no secret that Zac Efron has long been eager to shed his squeaky-clean "High School Musical" image. Last year the young actor dropped out of a planned "Footloose" remake so he could devote his time to more serious acting endeavors.

One of those projects was "Charlie St. Cloud," which will be released July 30 and marks Efron's debut as a dramatic leading man.

But like with Miley Cyrus' move in the Nicholas Sparks-penned drama "The Last Song," Efron too seems to be jumping from cheesy kids TV to cheesy "adult" film.

The premise of the movie itself is relatively Sparks-esque. After high school senior Charlie (Efron) suffers the loss of his younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) in a car accident, he struggles to overcome his grief. Before Sam's death, Charlie promised the young boy he'd teach him how to play baseball before heading off to Stanford. So he slowly begins encountering and interacting with Sam's ghost -- but that only jeopardizes his budding romance with Tess (Amanda Crew), one of his old high school classmates whom he's begun to fall for.

The trailer makes a valiant effort to show off Efron as a heartthrob for his legion of adoring young fans. Only seconds in, the actor's muscular arms are center stage as he pulls the ropes of a sailboat on the sun-dappled open sea with his brother. From our limited view, we'll admit that Efron doesn't seem totally horrible in the role -- the relationship his character has with his younger brother is endearing, and we're sure the movie is a bona fide tear-jerker. But at points in the trailer, doesn't it seem like Efron is straining to seem brooding and pensive in an effort to get some "real" emotion up on screen?

But who are we kidding? The movie may look a tad saccharine, but we'd totally take our mom to see it this summer. Would you?

-- Amy Kaufman (Twitter.com/AmyKinLA)

Photo: Zac Efron stars in "Charlie St. Cloud." Credit: Universal Pictures

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Comments () | Archives (14)

The comments to this entry are closed.

You make this movie seem so superficial. While I have not seen the movie, of course, I have read the book, and it is so much more than what you describe. I am really looking forward to seeing this movie, and Zac. He shouldn't have to prove anything to all of the naysayers, but for some reason he does. I know that he will rise to the occasion and show everyone that he is a very talented actor.

How can you say, "doesn't it seem like Efron is straining to seem brooding and pensive in an effort to get some 'real' emotion up on screen?" when you're watching bits of scenes completely out of context? Give the guy a break!

Instead of grudgingly giving him an ounce of praise by declaring him "not totally horrible", why don't you save your poison pen for your sure to be scathing review of the full length film?

From what I've seen of the trailer, and as an adult who has read the novel (which is much more Capra-esque than Sparkslike), I think Efron makes a spot-on as Charlie St. Cloud.

Sad that a good actor must be hampered by smouldering good looks. Jealous, perhaps?

So I think you should actually do some research around the story before you post your so called reviews. There is more to the story than the trailer shows, more depth and more emotion. The plot line isn't all that simple, and the book it's based in is way better than any Spark's book. Ever!. Zac's character lost his brother and holds himself to blame, is he meant to be happy. Yeah, didn't think so. Perhaps you should go away and be quiet and stop being so negative when it comes to Zac, it get's a lot boring.

I haven't read the book but I've read a synopsis. The storyline is intriguing, dealing with death, the afterlife, guilt, love, commitment, letting go, etc. From what I've seen in the trailer, Zac appears to be showing real emotion. You know, Zac has acted in more dramatic roles before the HSM movies made him a tween idol. He was brilliant in the movie Miracle Run, playing a functioning autistic child, and was even nominated for a young actor award. He more than held his own with co-stars Michelle Pfeiffer and John Travolta in Hairspray, and in 17 Again, although a comedy, had a dramatic scene in which his character, in a moving speech, acknowledges his faults in the marriage. Me and Orson Welles hasn't been released here in Australia, but he's had great reviews from what I've read. Because of his looks, he almost has to prove himself over and over. But Zac says that he loves challenges. Can't wait to see this movie!

You remind me of Rita Skeeter fron Harry Potter. You guys both write crap.

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Have you read this book? Have you been privy to a prescreening of the movie, or are you basing your comments on the trailer alone? This story is much more involved than you make it seem. It is a wonderful story by Ben Sherwood. And from what I can see of the trailer, Zac will easily prove that he has some real acting chops. But there are those who will always put him down because of his start with Disney and HSM. Poor kid. It doesn't matter how good he is. He could be another Marlon Brando or Al Pacino, but it wouldn't be good enough for people like you. Give him a break already.

Wow...you really seem to have struck a nerve with the teen/tween demographic who feel compelled to defend their man. I've read the book, which is good. But I kind of agree with you. I'm not so sold on the movie.

Spot on analysis. This trailer was cringeworthy. The only thing it has going for it is Efron's freakishly blue eyes.

Reply to: Michelle | 05/18/2010 at 11:27 PM

I am not part of the teen/tween demographic. I am probably older than you. There are people other than teens and tweens who recognize a good actor when they see one. Zac is a good actor. Too bad you can't see that.

As far as I'm concerned, the only cringeworthy thing was this review. It's sad that no matter how good this guy gets, people will always find fault in him. Such a shame.

I see the "zac can do no wrong" crowd has arrived with their comments.

The fact that the book is more involved has nothing whatever to do with the quality of the movie or whether zac can deliver in the role.

I like him a lot a real lot but even I know he has not developed into the actor he needs to be just yet. He'll get there but he needs us fans to give him a chance to grow.

You are SO RIGHT about that. It seems like Zac will never have the respect that he deserves.

I agree. His performance in Miracle Run was well worthy of an award. And all of his other performances showed that he is a talented actor, even the HSM roles. He sings, he dances, and he acts. What more does he have to do?

So I have a question for you, what does Zac have to DO to prove himseld to you?

A good actor will grow into his roles, but that doesn't mean there isn't something already instinctive in their acting, even at a young age. To me, Zac's performances appear 'genuine'. I first saw him in Hairspray, almost 2 years after that movie first came out, and I knew nothing of the High School Musicals. But there was something about him which was attractive to watch, and I became an instant fan. I applaud him for taking risks and trying different roles, and keep improving his craft.

The majority of comments supportive of this movie don't sound like they're written by teens/tweens, as you assert. I'm certainly not.


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