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Rated PG-13

Drama, Family
Charlie St. Cloud (PG-13) — After his 11-year-old brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) dies in a car accident, Stanford-bound sailing aspirant Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) becomes unglued. Consumed with grief and guilt — he was behind the wheel at the time of the smash-up — Charlie soon abandons his dreams and takes a job as caretaker at the cemetery where his brother is buried. Soon he's playing catch in the woods with Sam's ghost every night (can you say Field of Dreams?) and even reconnecting with old schoolmates who died in the war. It's not until he meets Tess (Amanda Crew) that Charlie begins to question the wisdom of holding onto the past at the expense of, well, living. Based on a novel by Ben Sherwood, this second collaboration between High School Musical alum Efron and director Burr Steers (who made the excellent Igby Goes Down) might sound like an icky Nicholas Sparks knockoff, but it's actually a good deal better and considerably more restrained. Credit Steers for his ability to avoid treacle(most of the time anyway)and for once again bringing out the best in his young star. If Efron isn't quite ready to graduate to Ryan Gosling or Joseph Gordon-Levitt roles just yet, his tutelage under Steers has proven that he's definitely more than just another pretty face with some really killer abs.

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