Clouds is inspired by the true story of Zach Sobiech, a teenager who, while battling osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer), gained media fame with his close friend Sammy Brown after uploading songs to Youtube.
After watching the trailers, I went in expecting another film similar to The Fault in Our Stars, a film which sparked a wave of movies disrespectfully nicknamed “dying-teen” movies. But it’s safe to say that Clouds is not like others in that “genre” nor did the trailers do the movie much justice.
While Zach is suffering from his illness throughout, the movie is mainly a celebration of the last year of his life and the accomplishments he made during it. As someone who can’t usually watch movies that deal with cancer, I found I had an easier watch than I had with The Fault in Our Stars or Dakota Fanning’s Now is Good because I didn’t feel like I was constantly reminded about Zach’s terminal diagnosis and the film doesn’t bog itself down by focusing solely on it. Instead, we get to witness a very human story of a young man who is just trying to live his life with the little time he has left.
The strong performances are what carries Clouds, and even with a screenplay that is only okay at best, there isn’t one bad performance. Fin Argus is great in the leading role, Neve Campbell is a scene-stealer as Laura (Zach’s mother), and I think many will fall in love with Sammy, who is brought to the screen by Sabrina Carpenter.
While Argus, Campbell, and Carpenter were standout’s for me, they were greatly supported by Tom Everett Scott, Madison Iseman, and Vivien Endicott Douglass, and Summer H. Howell. Douglass and Howell were so good with the short appearances they made as Zach’s sisters that I wish they had a little bit more to do.
Argus and Carpenter shine because of their on-screen chemistry. They could easily be best friends in real life as they were on-screen. It’s their believable friendship that helps the film through its handful of performances that are scattered throughout the film. The musical performances aren’t particularly the most interesting scenes, but thanks to the chemistry Zach and Sammy, they become some of the film’s sweetest moments.
Clouds isn’t a must-watch, but it certainly stands-out above the other films of its kind. It may also be one of the better films to watch if you are in the unfortunate position of having to talk to your children about cancer or terminal illnesses in general because, as I’ve already mentioned, it’s not a “teen-death” movie, and it’s not emotionally manipulative.
Clouds is available to stream on Disney+ right now!