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Charlie St. Cloud (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 99 minutes.

OK for children.

The last few times Iíve see Zac Efron he was in high school, first in a musical, and then impersonating George Hamilton. He looked like a high school kid. What a change! Now heís got the whitest teeth known to mankind, and is showing off his buff physique wearing tee shirts. Heís a dead ringer for Tyrone Power. I liked him in those earlier movies, and he was a huge asset to the film I thought last yearís best, Me and Orson Welles, in which he played Me.

In this film, aimed at women in general and romantic high school girls in particular, he loses his little brother, Sam (Charlie Tahan), in a car accident. They were real close, folks. Devastated, Charlie canít throw Samís baseball glove into the grave. Instead he runs off into the woods where Sam appears to him. Charlie promises to meet Sam every night at sundown, which he does religiously, giving up a scholarship to Stanford to work in a graveyard.

After five years of meeting in the woods to play catch, Charlie reacquaints Tess Carroll (Amanda Crew) and hearts flutter. The result is a romantic film with a twist straight out of Sixth Sense (1999). I thought I was going to die during the incredibly slow first hour, but my female friend thought even that was wonderfully romantic. It picked up during the last half hour enough so that I found it sentimental and entertaining enough to give it a positive rating.

There are some good sailing scenes. And Ray Liotta shows he really can act without a script calling for one f bomb after another. I must admit it was difficult to identify him without all the foul language he generally spouts.

Kim Basinger, who has apparently spent the past decade under a plastic surgeonís knife, has the face of a 21-year-old even though she plays Charlieís mother. I have to cut Kim some slack, though. If youíre a Hollywood actress and show as little as one small wrinkle, even though your D-Cup isnít affected, itís ďMarilyn who?Ē A viewer has to look sharply, however, because she basically disappears after the first few scenes. This is unfortunate because her talents are wasted in such a small role.

Efron, despite teeth that almost require sunglasses to reduce the glare, is a good actor, certainly good enough to carry off this soap opera.