As far as Charlie is concerned, his life is fine as long as he has Sam to hang with. But when Charlie's female sailing counterpart enters the scene, it threatens to radically change the dynamic. Turns out, as Charlie gets closer with Tess (Amanda Crew), Sam is "convinced" their time together will lead to Charlie forgetting him altogether.

Right in the middle of Charlie's conflicted feelings, a weirdo paramedic conveniently intervenes and tells him he has a gift. In another instance of unbelievable casting, Ray Liotta (you know, cinema's go-to baddie) is playing the guy who saved Charlie from flatlining for good. Now facing his own battle with cancer, he abruptly stops Charlie in the middle of the street and tells him they need to get a cup of coffee—pronto. While sharing a cup of joe, Liotta's character shares all kinds of inspirational mumbo jumbo about how Charlie needs to move on and embrace the gift of a second chance because God wouldn't have saved his life without a reason.

Trouble is, Charlie doesn't end up finding salvation in God, but Tess, who may (or may not) be a ghost, too. In terms of fantasy storytelling, that wouldn't have been so icky, except that they hook up in predictable PG-13 fashion. And because of the script's far-flung twists and meaningless turns, bad casting and a needlessly morbid plot to boot, Charlie St. Cloud fails to offer any memorable insight into the subject of grieving and dealing with loss.

Even Efron, not to mention his adoring audience, deserves better than this.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  A drunk driver was to blame for the accident that ended Charlie's brother's life. There's also social drinking plus Charlie sneaks out (while underage) to join his friends at a kegger.

  • Language/Profanity:  A couple of misuses of God's name plus a handful of profanities (a--, sh--, dam-) and rude language (calling a guy a di--).

  • Sex/Nudity:  A couple of references to masturbation and "hot girls" in catalogs, plus it's implied that Charlie sleeps with Tess when they wake up together the next morning. But since she was technically a ghost at the time, what happened between them sexually ends up being a dream.

  • Violence:  The car accident (which is shown once and then a couple of other times throughout the movie) that Charlie and Sam were in was a grisly affair. After getting hit by a drunk driver, a semi crashed directly into Sam's side of the car, which was very uncomfortable to watch. Attempts to revive both Charlie and Sam (who are covered in blood) are shown. When Charlie's friend taunts him about not being the best designated driver, Charlie punches him.

  • Religion:  Scripture is read at Sam's funeral. Plus, when Charlie runs into the paramedic who saved his life, (played by Ray Liotta), he tells Charlie that there was a reason that God saved his life when he was technically dead at one point. The paramedic also references his St. Jude's medal because St. Jude was the patron saint of lost causes—something he hopes will encourage Charlie to live with the purpose he was created for. Also since the paramedic is now dying of cancer himself, he emphasizes the importance of living life to the fullest.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.