Main cast: Fin Argus (Zach Sobiech), Madison Iseman (Amy Adamle), Sabrina Carpenter (Sammy Brown), Lil Rel Howery (Milton Weaver), Tom Everett Scott (Rob Sobiech), and Neve Campbell (Laura Sobiech)
Director: Justin Baldoni
Clouds is based on a memoir of the mom of the dead bloke that is the hero of this movie, Zach Sobiech. I haven’t read that memoir and I have no intention to, because here’s the thing: I know and have cared for people with terminal cancer, and if I had to write a book about those people, those people would be awesome, inspiring, and full of sage advice to teach us mere mortals to fly high and pursue our dreams.
In reality, however, those people were trying to be strong, afraid of the inevitable, and sometimes, they stop trying so hard to be strong and reveal how bitter and resentful they feel about how they are going to die—slowly, painfully—while others around them remain healthy seeming because these people managed to avoid drawing the short straw or something. If they smiled and appeared strong, often it’s because they don’t want the people around them to feel bad.
As someone so dear that had now departed told me, there was enough heartbreak and despair in the room for everyone, so let him be the only one to shoulder these emotions; he’d smile and pretend to be strong when he was deep inside scared that he would never wake up to see the next day, and sometimes, he wished that he’d never wake up. Instead of having a quirky retort to make him laugh or some sage insight to make him smile and feel reassured, I could only grip his hand a little stronger than usual and try not to cry myself; I really, really, really didn’t know what to say to make him feel better, and god how much I still hate myself for that. People in movies and books always have some deep insight or profound speech to deliver just for moments such as this.
In movies and books, these stories are for the cancer-free and the living, to make these people feel better about themselves. I always feel like a voyeur, a parasite that feeds off the pain and fears of people with cancer to get some feels each time I read or watch these stories. For people with cancer, a well-done story may make them feel better for a while, but I know a young girl with cancer that slipped into a short period of depression after reading The Fault in Our Stars: she told me she was nowhere as quirky or had as many friends as the characters in that book, so she felt that she would be forgotten once she was gone.
So, why am I watching this movie? Well, I hope people aren’t expecting some grand drama, because the answer is that I did that random “I’m bored, the cinemas are closed, and I can’t therefore watch the newest movies out there, so let’s just randomly pick something on streaming based on the movie poster” thing one evening. Oh, and I think they did something to the movie poster, because Fin Argus doesn’t look that cute in the movie itself.
Well, the good thing is that Clouds is so painfully average that it elicits no strong emotions, positive or negative, from me. It’s also painfully clichéd. We have a talented, sensitive, handsome young lad, Zach, whose only flaw in his sea of perfection is that his body isn’t responding well to chemotherapy for his osteosarcoma. There is a pretty girlfriend, Amy, as well as a supportive friend, Sam. There’s the supportive teacher too, Milton, who’s black because seriously, if a black guy is going to show up in such movies, he’d either be a teacher or a principal. Lots of teen smooching to be followed by Zach in noble anguish pushing Amy away because he can never be a long-term boo and she deserves better. Cue them coming back together, and he writing a song that is meant to be that dramatic moment when everyone waves a lighter and sings along with him. Along the way, cancer never makes Zach unattractive or ill-looking in any way, he is just… inconveniently bald at times, and the movie makes sure he looks as glam and gorg as can be before he scoots off to die off-stage once the applause stops.
I know, it’s somewhat remarkable how every talented, sensitive, gorgeous young person with terminal disease seem to lead the same dramatic trajectory in the final years of life, if these movies were to be believed.
The cast is adequate, but honestly, it doesn’t matter, as they are just props for the whole “cancer is so noble, so tragic, and it makes teenagers with cancer look even hotter right before they die” thing this movie is going for.
Anyway, like I said, this one is so formulaic and average as another pretty-people-one-is-dying-eek-eek-eek-buy-the-song-people movie that it falls squarely into the “okay but forgettable” territory. Don’t expect me to remember much about this thing in a few days. Oh, and if I could be allowed to say it without being cancelled to shreds, that song Clouds is just as equally bland and forgettable.