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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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