Those looking for some teen-centric uplifting fare need not look elsewhere thanks to Clouds, the latest Disney Plus original film. Unlike many teen-centric films that obnoxiously cater to said audiences, this film, based on a true story, takes that subgenre and gives it a musical twist and is one that will surely be more accessible as it brings plenty of heart and a surprising amount of emotion to the table. While the film arguably leans a little too much into subgenre tropes, the latter still finds a way to shine through. That being said, the film still won’t be for everyone as some of its melodramatic aspects may turn some audiences off. In the end, it is not going to convert non-fans, not that it has to, but the non-fans will most likely not be watching it anyway. With a running time just touching the 2 hour mark, the film is slightly too long as it wallows in that melodrama a few too many times, however, that is merely a minor complaint.
As mentioned, Clouds is based on the true story of Zach Sobiech (Argus), a young musician who, with his family, receives shocking news that his cancer has spread and has left him only months to live. Despite this, he decided to use his limited time left to pursue his dream and record an album. Little did he know, it would become a viral hit. Those familiar with the story or not can pretty much figure out how this story will end but regardless, it did not make the story any less uplifting. It became clear early on that though Zach had been afflicted for a long time, this illness did not bring the upbeat teen down. While he was always a fighter, this latest news was different and hit particularly hard. The challenge of moving forward in spite of this was hard for Zach and his supportive albeit emotionally-drained family, including his mother Laura (Neve Campbell) and father Rob (Tom Everett Scott). While it did present its challenges, music was what pulled him through. He just needed a nudge in the right direction and the encouragement to make something out of whatever time he had left. Thankfully, Zach had his best friend and fellow musician Sammy (Carpenter) and his girlfriend Amy (Iseman) at his side.
Zach’s, and to a lesser extent Sammy’s, musical rise mirrored his worsening condition which only added a sense of urgency to certain aspects of their relationship and his with Amy, bringing certain new thoughts and feelings to the surface, not to mention his growing self-doubt and lack of confidence. Nevertheless, his struggles and perseverance in the face of these adversities while watching his dreams come true and trying to make it to his high school graduation was compelling and inspiring to watch in spite of familiar plot beats. His experience afforded him a newfound perspective but we as viewers know that it would not last. Suffice it to say that the final stretch wasn’t always easy to watch as the other people in Zach’s life were left to pick up the pieces as his success could only distract from the inevitable for so long. Clouds was ultimately at its best whenever the focus was on Zach. While he got most of it anyway, the film stumbled whenever it drifted away from him.
To that point, the best part of Clouds was Argus’ star-making performance as Zach Sobiech. His range and dynamite screen presence in charisma sold his character arc and made him compelling to watch as an upbeat teen that fought hard to not let cancer come in the way of his dreams. That struggle was real. He carries the film therefore the film succeeds or fails depending on audiences’ ability to invest in his journey on an emotional level. His chemistry with Carpenter and Iseman as Sammy and Amy respectively made the former pairing especially fun to watch while the latter pairing had its moments though it admittedly didn’t get much of a chance. Campbell was impressive as Zach’s mother Laura and the film’s emotional core. Meanwhile, Lil Rel Howery as Mr. Weaver stole scenes while adding some levity to the proceedings.
At the end of the day. Clouds was a solid, inspirational teen drama that may seem like the rest on paper but its heart make it well worth streaming.
still courtesy of Disney
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