- Directed by Justin Baldoni
- Written by Kara Holden, based on the book by Laura Sobiech
- Starring Fin Argus, Sabrina Carpenter and Neve Campbell
- Classification PG; 121 minutes
In the grand tragic love-story tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Sweet November and, well, Love Story, Clouds arrives practically bearing a box of Disney+-branded Kleenex, so confident is the film that it will have you weeping into your couch cushions by the end of its 121 tear-jerking minutes. And you know what? Good for it. Director Justin Baldoni’s young-adult romance knows exactly which audience it’s playing to, and accomplishes much of what it sets out to do: break your heart, while leaving you humming a sorrowful-yet-catchy tune.
Even though it is based on a memoir titled Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way, Baldoni’s film isn’t some product straight from the evangelical-movie factory floor, nor is it even quasi-spiritual. It is instead purely sentimental, chronicling the adolescence and sudden celebrity of Zach Sobiech (Fin Argus), a Minnesota high-schooler whose inspirational song Clouds became a chart-topping sensation, thanks to both its craftsmanship and its brave display of a teen’s perseverance in the face of a cancer diagnosis.
Honest without being patronizing and chaste without being sanctimonious, Baldoni’s drama makes for effortless, fitfully engaging viewing. It doesn’t strive to break cinematic convention or chart new genre ground, nor does it have to. And the performances that the director coaxes from his too-pretty cast – including Sabrina Carpenter as Zach’s musically talented BFF, Madison Iseman as his adorable and adoring girlfriend and Neve Campbell as his eternally worried yet curiously stylish mom – are thoroughly engaging.
Anyone who has ever watched a movie about young love and the C-word (no, not “Clouds”) will know exactly where the film is headed, as well as the obligatory narrative beats that stretch out the inevitable. But for a sob story, Clouds is not nearly as watery as it could have been.
Clouds is available to stream on Disney+ starting Oct. 16
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