If a movie can tug at your heartstrings, "Charlie St. Cloud," attempts to yank them out with pliers, relentlessly, for the full, tidy 90 minutes.

Adapted from the novel "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," by Ben Sherwood, this tame, supernatural romance, in which Zac Efron talks to cute dead people, features a high school graduation, a plucky single mom, a scrappy athlete, a young man sent to war, a young child in peril, thwarted ambition, thwarted romance and grieving of every kind, all over a constant swell of strings instructing you to go ahead and let in the pain.

Director: Burr Steers
Writers: Greg Pearce, Lewis Collick (Adapted from the novel, “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, by Ben Sherwood)
Starring: Zac Efron and Amanda Crew
Rated: PG-13

Efron is St. Cloud, a golden boy who races sailboats (yet is mysteriously said to be poor) by a beautiful island said to be off the coast of Massachusetts, (although it is strangely mountainous for eastern Mass.). His sailing prowess has won him a scholarship to Stanford, but he throws it away when tragedy strikes. St. Cloud blames himself for the sudden death of his adorable younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan). In a constant state of penance, he defers his acceptance to college, taking a job overseeing the grounds of the town graveyard, and taking daily trips a secluded spot in the woods, where he believes he is meeting with Sam to keep the promise he made before the tragedy, to teach his little brother to throw a baseball.

St. Cloud’s fall from grace, his morbidity, and his isolation, have given him a reputation with many of the townies as a kook, while his dreaminess and lack of availability have made him a legend among the local teenage girls. When hot young sailboat racer Tess (Amanda Crew), traipses through the graveyard to huddle in a cleavagey heap by the grave of her father, St. Cloud has to pull himself together to try to win her heart, even if it means risking his sacred mourning rituals. When Tess becomes a damsel in distress, the stakes get higher—he must really pull himself together, and really risk.

"Charlie St. Cloud" features some beautiful and genuinely romantic pictures of the Vancouver locations offered up as small-town New England. It also has some charming actors, most notably, the very funny Charlie Tahan, as young, Sam St. Cloud. But this movie is what it is: a brazen, unadulterated schmaltz bomb hurled toward teenage girls: the "Twilight" market. I overheard one, as I left the theater, say that she "cried within the first 10 minutes." I felt like crying too, but for different reasons.

About The Author

Jason Rabin is a Blast contributing editor

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