Clouds – Movie Review – The Scene Magazine
Rating: C+ (Above Average)
Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios
It’s always good to see films whose hearts are in the right place as they attempt to shine a positive and heartfelt message. Clouds falls in this category as it tells the story of Zach Sobiech, an aspiring teenage musician who died from a form of bone cancer. The movie does succeed at being respectful of his family members and what he had to go through. However, the execution disappoints most of the time as Clouds descends into typical teenage melodrama. The characters all fit into neat little boxes and it’s not until the end when the movie truly picks up.
Through most of Clouds, what keeps it interesting are the lead performances from the lead actors. Fin Argus does well in portraying Zach’s frustrations at having this terminal illness and how he attempts to make his last months count. Meanwhile, Sabrina Carpenter portrays his best friend Sammy with the required spunk. When she’s required to be emotional, she does sell those moments and you get the sense of how long these two have been friends. For the scenes where Zach and Sammy sing together, Argus and Carpenter have some nice chemistry and perform the titular song with plenty of heart and charisma.
The romantic storyline between Zach and Madison Iseman’s Amy falls short, though. The connection isn’t quite there and the dialogue opts for the usual lines expected in teen dramas. Amy seems to change on a dime whenever the plot requires her to. Even with the possibility their occasional arguments did happen in real life, it doesn’t appear as convincing in the movie and both end up coming across a tad unlikeable a few times. Zach’s family is similarly written without much nuance. His siblings are often in the background, although his parents get a few moments to flesh them out. Due to how simply the characters are written, it does make the two hour runtime a bit of a slog at times. Meanwhile, the film often jumps forward, but it rarely feels like a seamless jump.
It’s in the final act where you really see Clouds find its footing. Justin Baldoni’s direction takes on a more subtle approach and handles the emotional scenes with the needed sensitivity. For the first two acts, we get a lot of clichéd speeches about life and making the most of it. The climax dials down on these, letting the emotions of the actors and the song numbers do the talking. The finale feels like a solid tribute to what the real Zach Sobiech worked towards and there is an understanding of why “Clouds” became a massively popular song. One wishes the rest of this film reached the heights of the final twenty or so minutes.
Curiously, this is Justin Baldoni’s second straight film about young people coping with a terminal illness as Five Feet Apart went for similar territory. Both films also have the same strengths and weaknesses. It’s good that he is making these films to highlight these diseases that are inflicted on young people and bringing more attention to them. However, they end up in the middle of melodramas that don’t handle the characters and their emotions with much subtlely. Both Clouds and Five Feet Apart have worthy intentions, but they can’t quite escape the forced teenage storylines and conventions.