Movies: Charlie st cloud * *
(12A, general release)
Based on a best-selling slushfest of a novel by Ben Sherwood, Charlie St Cloud is a strange and uncomfortable hybrid of a movie.
Because while it contains elements of the early M Night Shyamalan supernatural chillers, it also strongly resembles those lushly emotional films (Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe) inspired by the inimitable prose stylings of Nicholas Sparks, and this uneasy combination makes for a strange 100 minutes or so.
Teenage girls, however, won't give a damn about any of that, because Zac Efron's in it.
He is Charlie, a rather mournful young man who wanders the streets of his small north-western American town like a disconsolate latter-day Hamlet.
And with good reason, because Charlie is haunted by a horrific car crash five years before that injured him and killed his little brother, Sam.
Before the crash, Charlie had big plans to go to Stanford University, but now he's given up on all that and works as a caretaker at the local cemetery.
He hangs out there partly because he has made a deal with Sam's ghost to play catch with him every afternoon.
Do they use a real baseball, I wonder, or a ghostly one?
We don't find out, and this cosy relationship is threatened when a young girl called Tess (Amanda Crew) comes along, and Charlie takes a shine to her.
But when Sam begins to feel left behind, old Charlie faces an unenviable choice.
All of this is lushly photographed, and Mr Efron's many sighs will be hung on by his adoring fan base.
But the film makes little or no sense and has nothing like the kind of charm you need to get away with perpetrating this kind of nonsense.