If you love awkward scripts, weirdly antiquated dialog ("fill the coffers" and "last hoorah"?!), and mile-wide plot holes, you'll dig on Charlie St. Cloud. In fact, the only interesting part of the movie (other than Zac Efron. ROWR.), is trying to figure out who, if anyone, is really dead. Director Burr Steers and writer Craig Pearce, the talents responsible for this 100-minute-long "really?" moment, occasionally insert misdirects designed to make the audience wonder...
SPOILER ALERT FOR PRETTY MUCH THE REST OF THIS POST
...if Charlie is alive. And aside from that glimmer of an interesting question, you'll have more fun trying to figure out who the guy next to you is texting with than you will watching this disaster.
Quickish plot summary: golden boy sailor/baseball aficionado Charlie is weirdly close to his younger brother, Sam. But oh no! There's a car accident, and Charlie's at the wheel. Sam dies, but Charlie—whose heart has completely, totally, you-better-didn't-start-again stopped—is revived by Ray Liotta, Overly Involved Paramedic, Esq. Instead of going off to college or doing anything plausible, Charlie spends the next five tortured years in the same seaside town working as a—you guessed it—cemetery caretaker. He sort of grunts at his coworkers, he barely talks to his mom, and he doesn't even date! Boo! (That's five years of weepy Efron lovin' going to waste.) But every day at sundown, Charlie meets up with Sam's ghost for baseball practice, so they still kind of get to check in with each other. If this screams "normal" to you, then Charlie's life is pretty much normal. Except, guess what? Remember that girl, Tess, who we saw for 12 seconds in the beginning? No? Me either. Anyway, now she's a famous sailor, and she's about to take her schmantzy new boat around the world—but not before stopping in her nothing/nowhere hometown for one news truck's worth of press coverage. She and Charlie have awkward we're-so-close-your-nose-is-in-my-mouth flirting, and then she takes off for a six-month trip around the world. Except! Suddenly, she's back, and she's randomly hanging out on a gravestone in Charlie's graveyard. Plus, she's got this nasty ol' gash on her forehead. Charlie cleans her up, and some flirtsy-wirtsy later, they're doing it near a headstone. BUT! Guess what? It turns out her boat never actually came back, and now, Charlie has to go find her, because he somehow knows that he was actually getting all up in her spirit. (And remember, guys; always use protection, because doing it with the soul projection of your crush can still give you a wicked case of ghost chlamydia.) Sam's all, "What's up? I thought I was the only guy stuck in limbo? I mean, aside from you, because career much? BURN." And Charlie's all, "You're my brother, and I love you but...you know. Boobies." SO NOW CHARLIE HAS TO FIND TESS BEFORE SHE KICKS OFF FROM HYPOTHERMIA, AND SAM'S PRETTY MAD, AND WILL CHARLIE GET TO HER BEFORE SHE CROAKS SO THAT THEY CAN UNFURL THE HEADSAIL TOGETHER FOR REAL? AND YES—THAT'S MY ATTEMPT AT A SAILING-RELATED EUPHEMISM. BACK TO THE MOVIE. DUHN DUHN DUHHHHHHHN.
It'd be easier to let Steers and Pearce off the hook if they weren't drawing directly from M. Night Shmasdfkyfys's playbook. (The new-lease-on-life Charlie even wears red at the end of the film, which is a classic M. Night move.) But since they decided to try for a twist without really, you know, having a twist, I have to believe that something smarter was going on.
Everything in this crapheap of a movie suggests that, since Charlie flatlined after the accident, his brief death allows him to see ghosts. But here's what I hope:
-I hope that this is a smarter movie than it seems, and that the big reveal—OH HOLY CRAPLUMPS TESS IS A SPIRIT—isn't actually the big reveal.
-I hope that Charlie and the rest of the custodial staff at Whispering Pines are actually all dead. I hope they're doomed to an afterlife in this bungwad of a town because their bodily remains are buried in the graveyard that they call their place of employment.
-I hope that the "ghosts" Charlie sees are actually living people, and that Sam is really alive. And I hope that Sam doesn't seem to age because Charlie's ghost is so tied to the past that he's deluded himself into creating a comforting world based on what he once knew. I hope that Sam's a hulking 17-year-old, and that he thinks it's hilarious that Charlie's still all like, "So, get any chest hair yet, shrimp?"
-I hope that everyone in Charlie's graduating high school class died tragically, so that, even when he has confrontations with them, we can be all, "GHOST FIGHT!"
-And more than anything, I hope that Charlie used a ghost condom.
Did you see this? What are your theories? Who's dead and who's not, dammit?
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