DVD Release Date:  November 9, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  July 30, 2010
Rating:  PG-13 (for language, including some sexual references, an intense accident scene and some sensuality)
Genre:  Drama
Run Time:  99 min.
Director:  Burr Steers
Actors:  Zac Efron, Charlie Tahan, Amanda Crew, Augustus Prew, Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta

If forced to sum up Charlie St. Cloud in one pithy line, I'd say it's a Lifetime made-for-TV movie with way better cinematography. And I guess the fact that it doesn't star Tori Spelling or Jo from The Facts of Life and doesn't feature some skeevy guy cheating on his wife (who she'll naturally have to murder later) probably helps the cause a little, too.

But beyond that, if you don't believe that Zac Efron is the dreamiest guy on the planet, well, there's not much to love about this standard-issue shlock-fest that makes anything Nicholas Sparks has served up recently look downright Oscar-worthy in comparison.

Surprisingly enough, the trouble with this hokey mess of a movie isn't even Efron's acting (truth be told, he does the best with what he's got). It's that the screenplay tries to be so many things (part Field of Dreams, part The Sixth Sense, part The Notebook) that it doesn't do anything particularly well, including generating the necessary waterworks to win over its target demographic (a.k.a the same women, myself included, who bawled during the aforementioned Notebook).

The movie poster for Charlie St. Cloud instructs us that "life is for living," and while that's certainly true, this story has a funny way of conveying that message. Basically, five years after sailing enthusiast Charlie St. Cloud's (Efron) brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) is tragically killed in a car crash, Charlie simply can't move on with his life.

Instead of heading to Stanford on the sailing scholarship he earned, Charlie has set up shop in his sleepy Pacific Northwest town's graveyard where his brother is buried. And when he's not chasing the geese that destroy the headstones with their poo (yes, this is one of the film's small attempts at comic relief) or planting beautiful new flowers at the resting places of his fellow townspeople, he's moping around and checking the weather conditions for expeditions he'll never make.

Trouble is, it's Zac Efron who's doing all the moping, and it takes a gargantuan sense of disbelief to buy into him as Charlie. If the makeup and wardrobe folks had de-glammed him even a little, that could've been possible. But when the camera is lovingly zooming in on Efron's tan, model-perfect face and chiseled abs, it's all a bit laughable.

If anything, you'd think his character would prefer to drown his sorrows in all the money he'd make from doing skin-care ads and shirtless modeling. But instead we're supposed to believe he's so devastated that he can't even make polite conversation with a pretty girl.

Even worse is when Charlie starts seeing (and talking to) dead people. While spending all those long hours at the local cemetery, he thinks he spots his dearly departed brother walking behind one of the gravestones. And not long after, he starts reconnecting with Sam from beyond when they strike up an unusual bargain: For an hour every afternoon, Charlie promises Sam that he'll meet up with him in the woods where they'll practice catching a few grounders (Sam was a huge baseball nut) and reminiscing about the good ol' days before the drunk driver messed everything up.

In case you were wondering:  Little nuggets of Hallmark card wisdom are often exchanged during these pow-wows (like when Sam reminds Charlie that he hurts because he's alive). And before long, Charlie is known as the town's requisite weird guy because he's often spotted talking to, well, no one.