Charlie St. Cloud



Poignant Efron drama too intense for younger fans.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: July 21, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie seems to be telling audiences not to live in the past -- and that the best way out of tragedy is to take one step at a time toward joy, no matter how hard that may seem. It also says that putting off a dream doesn't mean losing it completely.

Positive role models

Charlie is an amazing brother -- but he's so dedicated and loyal that his own needs go by the wayside. He doesn’t know how to manage his grief and instead drowns in it. Charlie and Sam's parents are mostly out of the picture, either for sad reasons (abandonment) or out of necessity (work).


A child dies in a terrible car accident; viewers don’t see much gore, but they do see blood, cuts, and bruises. Guys talk trash after a sporting event and at a bar; one of them gets punched in the mouth.


Talk about “getting laid.” A couple kisses passionately and spends the night together; he's seen with his shoulders bare. Charlie is seen shirtless.


An 11-year-old says “ass” and “d--k.” “S--t” is also used a couple of times; other words include "hell," "damn," and "crap."


A few labels are flashed, including Kaenon (maker of sunglasses) and Tanqueray.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A terrible car accident is caused by a drunk driver. Teens talk about partying. A young man drowns his sorrows with hard liquor. Friends down Jaeger bombs at a bar.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this affecting drama starring High School Musical heartthrob Zac Efron tackles themes that may be too heavy for his legions of tween fans. His character is tortured with survivor's guilt over the death of his younger brother, which happens in a terrible car accident (some blood is shown). While there are other intense scenes of despair and sadness, there’s also hope and a strong message about leaving tragedy behind in favor of joy. Expect some swearing (including "s--t"), the suggestion of underage drinking (though none is shown), and some kissing and discussion of "getting laid."

What's the story?

Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is a great sailor -- so much so that he’s been offered a scholarship at Stanford. But he’s an even better brother. He adores his 11-year-old sibling, Sam (Charlie Tahan), a Red Sox fan with a quick wit and a barrel of admiration for Charlie. And since their father is long gone and their mother (Kim Basinger) is busy pulling double shifts at work to support them, Charlie’s happy to take care of Sam. But on the way to a friend’s house one night, a drunk driver slams into their car, leaving Sam dead and Charlie bereft. The only way to manage the grief, it seems, is for Charlie to keep his pledge to Sam to spend an hour playing catch every day after work, even if that means putting his life on hold. Or is it?

Is it any good?


Make no mistake: CHARLIE ST. CLOUD aspires to be a tearjerker. As such, it commits a few sins that most tearjerkers do, including milking its tragic setups and hinting at their arrival a little too heavily. It also shamelessly taps into Efron’s pretty boy status; watch as the camera lingers on his worked-out chest and biceps when he removes his shirt in a pivotal scene near the end. Nevertheless, the movie is surprisingly poignant -- and for that, there’s Efron to thank. This heartthrob can act. He’s especially disarming paired with Charlie Tahan, who plays Sam. The film does an excellent job of establishing their rapport immediately; in fact, they’re so believable as brothers that when Sam dies and Charlie suffers plaintively, it feels like a punch to the gut.

Unfortunately, Efron and his love interest, played by Amanda Crew, don’t have much chemistry. And, as Charlie and Sam's mom, Basinger disappears too quickly and completely after an interesting cameo. Despite this, and a somewhat fuzzy spin on the afterlife, Charlie St. Cloud manages to move. It may even make you cry.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what audience the movie is intended to appeal to. Is it meant for Efron's younger fans? Do stars who are popular with younger kids have an obligation to make media that's appropriate for them?

  • What role does alcohol play in the movie's central tragedy? What are the real-life consequences of drinking?

  • Why is Charlie consumed by guilt? Can you keep the memory of a deceased

  • loved one alive without getting lost in death? How does the movie handle

  • this topic?

  • Do you believe in second chances? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 30, 2010
DVD release date:November 9, 2010
Cast:Amanda Crew, Kim Basinger, Zac Efron
Director:Burr Steers
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language including some sexual references, an intense accident scene and some sensuality

This review of Charlie St. Cloud was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written bySophron March 24, 2012

'The True Meaning on Charlie St Cloud !'

I think this movie would be advisable for viewers of 12 + because i believe in spirits and i have had some ghostly happens go on and i can relate to it personally but it teaches children how to cope and not just children , but it taught me , to live by love even though the stars walk backwards, and is for anyone suffering heart ache or grieving, when a loved one has been lost and has some very strong and powerful messages about the positive aspects of life and makes them feel good coming towards the end of the film, this film could be for anyone , couples, partners , family viewers and aso someone reaching out for comfort and can have no one that can understand them as much as the film can; it breaks out the true meaning of how devastating it is to loose but also to live , love and let go! if you 'd like to get in contact with me on your own personal opinions then please call 07581104850 thank you zac efron in truly my actor i love him soo much i feel like a child myself he is truly an outstanding role model for kids and teenagers and even for myself haha! and im 34, this man means well and should continue with what he is doing , because ladies and gentleman , boys and girls, there is none like him , zac if your reading this you amaze me XXXX
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old March 5, 2011

Great Movie

This movie was awesome! Charlie was an amazing brother and it was so sad when the car accident occured. it was confusing at times but it all tied together at the end. charlie was a bery devoted brother to Sam and i really liked that part. Charlie aslo showed to care about others when he saved a girls life who everyone thought had died. You have to see this movie. It's AWESOME!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Educator Written byMychemicalstinkpants January 23, 2011

powerful but heart breaking movie is to intense for kids

s**t is used 4 times ass is used 3 times and d**k is used 2 times there is drunk people and a kid is killed
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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