This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Charlie St. Cloud.”
The Movie: “Charlie St. Cloud”
Starring: Zac Efron, Charlie Tahan, Amanda Crew
Director: Burr Steers
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Charlie’s brother, Sam, dies in a car crash that Charlie survives. Charlie is given the gift of seeing his dead brother, but when the girl he falls in love with’s life is at risk, he must choose between his girlfriend and his brother.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 27 percent
Brown: With last week’s pick of “Logan,” a tale of a man’s gory, murderous last stand, I felt it was time for Froemming and I to get back in touch with our feelings.
Well, no, that’s not true. I just wanted to make his life a living hell for 90 minutes. And I picked “Charlie St. Cloud” just by name alone. See, Froemming grew up in St. Cloud, and like any cynical adult, he’s not exactly fond of his hometown.
His reaction when I told him this was the movie: “I really (REDACTED) hate you.”
Considering I live three hours away from you and you pose no physical threat to me, what were your initial thoughts on “Charlie St. Cloud” before you start reading about the Unibomber and find a way to harm me from a distance?
Froemming: You son of a bitch. You made me watch a movie where Zac Efron makes love to a concussed woman’s spirit in a cemetery.
You son of a bitch.
Yeah… this movie was kind of weird. Like, the chick-flick version of “The Sixth Sense.” With sailing.
And that’s how this movie begins: With sailing. We’re in 2005 Massachusetts and Charlie St. Cloud is in a sailboat race with his brother, Sam, in the Splendid Splinter. And, Charlie is endangering his little brother’s life for the sake of winning. Donald Trump approves, especially since his full name is Charlie Keaton St. Cloud.
Charlie has everything going for him. He’s about to leave home for Stanford on a sailing scholarship, his mom is Kim Basinger (which I legit didn’t realize until the movie ended because I’m that non-observant) and he can spend the entire summer in their sleepy east coast town teaching Sam the finer points of baseball while hitting him constantly.
And, he’s invited to a high-school kegger. What could go wrong?
Froemming: What went wrong was your choice in film with this JOE-DOWN.
Anyway, Charlie is stuck babysitting Sam, and decides to sneak out and go to the keg party, because that’s what teenagers do. But he gets caught by Sam, and is forced to drive the little bastard to a friends house, which Charlie points out is out of his way.
Now, I have a question: Why is Charlie afraid of getting pulled over by the police. He is 18 (REDACTED) years old. He should have a driver’s license, right? I mean, I assume there are two cars in the family, because his mom drove to work, right?
Brown: I think it’s because he’s supposed to stay at home and watch Sam instead of dumping him off with someone else and drinking with his buddies who are about to get shipped off to the Marines. One of his Marine buddies is Dave Franco, James’ brother and Alison Brie’s real-life bae. I really like Alison Brie, therefore, I hate Dave Franco.
Froemming: Yeah, the police would really care about that. Get the 5-0 on the St. Cloud kid breaking his babysitting duties. Also, you using the term “bae” filled me with the rage of a million fiery suns.
Well, Charlie and Sam get rear-ended by a car, then t-boned by another. And frankly, I was wishing a car would have crashed into my apartment as I watched this and given me an out from continuing this film.
But alas…. Here we are.
Brown: Yeah, the St. Cloud boys get rear-ended by a pick-up, then a semi (I think, some big truck) t-bones them on the passenger side. So Sam’s all sorts of dead.
Is it just me, or did that truck have plenty of time to at least slow down instead of smoking their little Ford Taurus at full speed?
Froemming: The driver was probably a Yankees fan and saw Sam’s Boston hat and made his choice.
Brown: As much as I would like to think sports rivalries won’t fuel infanticide, I can’t say that it wouldn’t happen with confidence.
Then, we get some stretch where it looks like we’re wandering the woods from “Lord of the Rings” before Ray Liotta revives Charlie and saves his life.
I was really thrown off from this. “Goodfellas” is my all-time favorite movie and him saving a life? Not what I expect. Unless he’s going to use Charlie as a pawn to rob a cigarette truck.
Froemming: Charlie is brought back from the dead, but his brother — getting the full brunt of a deranged Yankees-fan-truck-driver’s rage — wasn’t as fortunate. Sam dies, and this little joyride that ended in a tragedy forces Charlie to spend five years preventing the ghost of his brother from moving on. Because Charlie is selfish.
Brown: OK, I completely understand how Charlie will be grief-stricken over it for an extended period. He was in charge of his brother and he happens to be killed. But this was not his fault at all. A truck hit the car from behind and knocked the car into oncoming traffic. Seriously, what are you supposed to do, Charlie? You literally did nothing to kill your brother.
Know what else could help you with your coping, Charlie? Not working at the (REDACTED) graveyard where your brother is laid to rest! Alas, you’re not very bright, Charlie. It was a good thing you were good at sailing because I don’t think Stanford accepted you for your brains.
OK, let’s get this out of the way, Froemming: What the (REDACTED) was this movie’s obsession with geese?
Froemming: Either a plot point that got cut in the final edit or a sad attempt at using a baffling metaphor like the ducks on “The Sopranos.” Neither makes any sense.
But Charlie made a vow to his dead brother’s ghost during the funeral: He will teach him to play baseball everyday at dusk. Also, his freakout at the funeral and the running off I believed was cribbed in another terrible film we watched, “Batman V Superman.” (REDACTED) you, Zack Snyder.
Brown: Not every piece of cinema can do a funeral as flawlessly as “Eastbound and Down.”
To me, the geese were a comedy note that failed miserably in what’s supposed to be a tear-jerker. You go from this movie about a young man trying to come to terms with his little brother’s death and all of a sudden you turn into Bill Murray from “Caddyshack” hunting the gopher?
Charlie’s life is filled with geese hunting, playing baseball with a ghost and living in a shanty adjacent to the graveyard. He’s Dampe from “The Legend of Zelda” minus the charm.
Froemming: We also see that ghosts love to guilt-trip Charlie when we see his buddy Sullivan at the cemetery. Charlie tells him he wished he was there with him in combat, which baffled me because he was going to go to Stanford. Then we see Sullivan was killed in combat, and Charlie is followed by the ghosts of his past that keep him from living his life. And it was at this moment I realized I still had about an hour-and-20 minutes left of this garbage.
You son of a bitch.
Brown: With Sullivan (Franco) being dead, that means Alison Brie is single, right? Right?!
With Charlie playing cryptkeeper with his annoying British buddy, we come across Tess, our love interest of the movie as she yells at these geese harassers for not keeping up her father’s grave garden. And I got bad “Twilight” flashbacks as I looked at Tess being a mouth-breather. Luckily, this was a better acting job than Bella.
Froemming: There was times I was convinced this also took place in Forks, Wash. Like a terrible spin-off film, but with sad, non-glittery ghosts.
Brown: As luck would have it, Tess is also into sailing. How convenient for Charlie! However, he refuses to sail now because instead of hitting the water, he has to play baseball with a ghost at sunset when the cannons go off in town. Which begs the question: How terrified would you be to live in that town when every day cannons are going off?
When I lived in Red Wing, the town would have the tornado sirens go off EVERY Wednesday instead of the first Wednesday of every month per usual tornado drill protocol. Reason was, Red Wing has a nuclear power plant. And I’ll say that in living there for almost two years, never got used to that.
Froemming: I didn’t know you lived in Springfield…
Anyway, Charlie’s British friend keeps pestering him to have a social life and gets him out and about for a night. He tries to hook him up with a friend of his girlfriend’s, but Charlie is almost as socially awkward as I am in such situations, and it goes nowhere.
So naturally, like in “Footloose,” Charlie gets into a brawl when one of his old sailing rivals cracks a joke that nobody wants him to be a designated driver, because of the implication. I know I shouldn’t have, but because I hated Charlie’s character, I laughed with the others on that one.
Brown: I audibly gasped. That was a (REDACTED)-up thing to say to someone when their LITTLE BROTHER DIES. Plus, the guy who got punched works for Goldman Sachs. Even if it was a pretty yacht club twerp like Charlie hitting him, it was a bit cathartic.
Now, Tess sees Charlie at the restaurant and they eventually strike up a conversation when Charlie gets a little handsy with her boat. At least there’s a little chemistry here (when Charlie isn’t being all awkward and dead people-seeing) compared to Bella and Edward.
Then, another baseball scene (where Charlie gets hit in the testicles by a ghost child) and, my most aggravating part of the movie: Playing in the mud with The Ramones’ “California Sun” playing on the soundtrack. You do not sully The Ramones, movie!
Froemming: Did you, like I did, get flashbacks of the rainstorm baseball scene from “Twilight” when it started to rain and they got all excited?
Brown: No, I was too infuriated by hearing The Ramones in this film.
Oh, one thing to gloss over that we forgot, Charlie and Ray Liotta have coffee. He makes a speech about having cancer and Charlie not wasting his second chance at life. It comes into play later, so yeah. That happened.
Now, we’ll have a dinner date with Tess and Charlie at his graveyard
murder house shanty.
Froemming: Well, Tess shows up before with a (REDACTED) concussion, which Dr. St. Cloud just patches up with iodine and calls it good. Then, he swoops in on this poor, confused, concussed and obviously in need of medical care woman and asks her on a date. And she accepts.
Charlie St. Cloud, in my opinion, is a sexual predator in this film. Preying on someone who is obviously not in a position to make rational decisions and whatnot.
Brown: Tess is trying to sail around the world and while back home, she takes her boat for a practice run and sails into a storm, hence the concussion. This comes into play later, folks.
Then on the dinner date, Charlie doesn’t have enough respect for Tess to change out of his damn clothes she saw him in earlier in the day. Then they kiss and she refuses because she’ll be sailing the world for six months in just a few days.
But because this is a movie, Tess becomes my most reviled movie character: The manic pixie dream girl. God, that character type is so infuriating.
Anyway, she writes a note that says “Come find me” so Charlie looks through the graveyard at night. And then, they hump in the graveyard.
Look folks, I’m not a religious man, but whatever God you believe could exist, they upset that God. That’s just bad, bad mojo.
Then Charlie wakes up with a goose staring him down. Make your own jokes here, folks. The JOE-DOWN is above that.
Froemming: Brown, I don’t know what kind of weird things you are into, but I for one am not into Ghost (REDACTED) in Graveyards.
Brown: Dude, spoilers!
Froemming: To quote Mr. Bookman from “Seinfeld:” Maybe that turns you on, Brown… Maybe that’s how you get your kicks… You and your goodtime buddies… I’ve got a flash for you, joy boy. Partytime is over!
Brown: It’s not like Charlie St. Cloud is the first movie character to get sexy with a ghost. What about Dan Aykroyd in “Ghostbusters?”
Froemming: Tess finds out shortly after her concussed, graveyard romp that Brown is probably into that she is a spirit and her body is missing. Charlie finds out when he is out having coffee and for once not talking to ghosts, when it is announced Tess and her boat are missing. He then finds her in the graveyard, obviously freaked out.
Brown: Tess has been missing for a few days and the search party is being called off earlier than I would expect in such a circumstance.
Freaking out that his ghost girlfriend is in danger, Charlie goes full Dewey Cox-ripping-a-sink-out-of-the-wall rage on his shanty before Ray Liotta’s wife comes knocking. She gives him a necklace he wore the night Charlie came back to life. Going back to the “Second chance” conversation, Charlie now has to take to the water to go find Tess.
But, that means missing out on playing catch with his brother, which will make Sam fade away because reasons. Sorry, ghost bro, Charlie wants him some ghost girl action.
Charlie sees the note Tess wrote that said “find me” and decides he knows where she is because….it’s what he would have done? With the aid of his gin-soaked British pal, they attempt to steal Tess’ coach’s boat to save her.
She has been lost at sea for three days now. There is no (REDACTED) way she has survived this.
Brown: How can she die, Froemming? Sam helps guide Charlie to Tess via shooting star! Someone can’t die with heaven on their side!
Froemming: Joe Brown, America’s next Betsy DeVos.
Brown: No, not wealthy enough.
So yeah, because Charlie finally got past the first stage of grief after five years, Sam finally disappears and helps Charlie via shooting star to Tess’ location on a rock out in the middle of the ocean. Seals are nearby, so I assume shark-infested waters. Because Charlie is dumb, he dives into the frigid water and gets his head bashed on a rock thanks to a wave.
At this point, I think this whole movie is his “Sixth Sense” or “Jacob’s Ladder” (to borrow from Jason Mantzoukas from “How Did This Get Made”) where Charlie is imagining the hero’s journey he did to save Tess’ life from hypothermia before the Coast Guard showed up.
Nope. He lived. She lived. Then we get this weird bit where now Charlie wants to sail around the world, but hooking up with Tess’ spirit (I guess) doesn’t exactly mean you won the real thing’s heart. Or something.
Froemming: She remembers all of it! She remembers their graveyard romp with her concussed head and all. And she isn’t freaked out by it when he tells her that happened. (REDACTED) this movie. She was scared of Charlie when she thought those were just dreams. Turns out to be true, she is OK with it.
Brown: And now, Charlie and Tess will sail the world, and she will have to be his girlfriend, because of the implication.
Froemming: Are you saying he’s going to hurt this girl, more?
Brown: Yeah, probably. For a while I thought this movie could have been a werewolf movie, since Charlie has to go running away from Tess when he hears the cannons.
They will die out at sea and be a fabled ghost ship. And they’ll probably knock boots over a ship graveyard to continue their perverted fantasies.
And on that, let’s take our sailboat over to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: I didn’t hate this movie, but I would not recommend it. It’s a very average romantic drama. With ghost (REDACTED).