Friday, 15 October 2010

REVIEW: The Death And Life Of Charlie St. Cloud

Synchronized Baseball. An olympic event by 2016. Trust.

OK, shall we get this out of the way. Its a terrible title. It makes Knight and Day feel good about itself. It gives you such an image of unrepentant, merciless melodrama. The kind of self-serious movie that came from the pen of Nicholas Sparks, it gives you images of some dude who was in high school musical thinking he's suddenly Leonardo DiCaprio, spilling out insincere emotions with the conviction of a post 1995 Oliver Stone. ( See that's what we call, a call back. Because I made a similar joke in the wall street review. About Oliver Stone. Having no conviction. I'll be hiding in my cupboard now.) But do you know what? The Death And Life Of Charlie St.Cloud isn't the monstrosity it was supposed to be. Its mediocre, which considering the subject matter and the people involved is nothing short of miraculous.

Zac Efron is a weird case. First of the high school musical movies are terrible and no-one is telling me otherwise. He is terrible in them. Boy can sing and dance sure, but the acting is awful and let's all acknowledge that shall we. But since casting that off, I think every performance he's given I've liked in some capacity. Even 17 Again, which was godawful, he wasn't terrible in. And arguably in Me And Orson Welles, he perhaps gave his first legitimately good performance. And here, well I think he's good again. making some of the more squirmy material tolerable because shockingly enough, I think it has to be said that he can act, at least a little bit, at this point. In a way he carries the thing, which in different hands could have been truly redonkulous. And it still is, but its sort of redonkulousness you can believe in, if you don't concentrate too hard. The talking to dead people is still a cliche, metaphor or literal, and it just shows a lack of imagination. The religious stuff is very heavy-handed and any athiests in the audience will have to suppress their gag reflex. And in places there is the melodramatic stuff to make you want to evaporate. But if you judge the thing against contemporaries like Dear John, then it comes out looking better. Its not Face-Off or anything, but its a serviceable film, that is adequate in what it does.

Plus there's the fun game of trying to figure out if Efron's co-star Amanda Crew is stunningly beautiful or hideously ugly. It seems to change shot to shot. I still don't have a definitive answer for you, so its really that ambiguous. But for Efron this thing can act as a calling card to be in better movies. If he can make this shit look good then I think he may be doing something right. High School Musical still sucks though, and if you like it the ghost of Gene Kelly is coming to your house to kill you.

Rating: 5/10

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