Teenager Zach Sobiech (Fin Argus) forms the music group A Firm Handshake and records the inspirational hit single “Clouds” and tries to traverse his school and personal life, all while battling terminal cancer.
By the time the end credits of Clouds appeared on screen, I genuinely had a hard time believing that Disney+ distributed the film. That’s not to say Disney+ isn’t good, because I do enjoy the streaming platform. The reason why I was so surprised that the service was responsible for this film’s distribution is because Disney+ is almost universally known for its kid-friendly content that virtually anybody can watch. However, Clouds is boundary-pushing for the platform. It deals with extremely depressing topics and does not shy away from getting deep, honest, and personal about cancer.
Cancer is something that can happen to anybody in the world, and it doesn’t care how old you are, how healthy you are, or how good of a person you are. To be honest, it’s probably one of, if not the, scariest thing in the world. There is no cure for it and therefore, a diagnosis of any type of cancer can be absolutely devastating.
Director Justin Baldoni does a marvelous job at depicting an everyday teenager, Zach Sobiech battling terminal cancer all while trying to have a strong and happy personal and school life. Zach has a big crush on a fellow classmate named Amy Adamle (Madison Iseman) who also happens to like him back. But, he is worried to get too serious about their relationship at first, because she doesn’t know that his cancer is terminal.
He is afraid that, if they end up dating and eventually passes away, she will be too heartbroken. He is worried that she won’t want to date him because of his cancer. However, all of his fears are quickly pushed to the side when she tells him that his cancer will not get in the way of their relationship.
And while the dynamic between Zach and his girlfriend Amy is extremely heartwarming and is sure to put a smile on your face, I think my favorite relationship in the film has to be between Zach and his best friend Sammy Brown (Sabrina Carpenter). The way their friendship blossoms throughout the film is incredibly uplifting and watching them write songs together for an eventual album they want to produce is simply euphoric. When they are writing songs and playing together, all their worries simply fade to the back.
Not to mention the fact that Fin Argus, Sabrina Carpenter, and Madison Iseman all deliver phenomenal performances here that feel unbelievably real. Just like the film as a whole, their performances are equal parts honest and beautifully heartfelt. All of Zach’s friends and family want to do their best to make him happy during the final stage of his life.
Along the way, it can be a little bit easy to predict where the film is eventually going to go towards the end, but none of that changes the fact that Clouds is absolutely heartbreaking once you see the entire movie from start to finish.
It’s made even more depressing when you realize that this film is actually based on a true story, which is not something I knew before watching it. The end credits let you know some details about Zach’s life which caused me to do a quick Google search, which was when I realized that Zach actually existed. He isn’t a fictional character.
Although Zach Sobiech is no longer with us, we can all rest assured that he is in a better place now, looking down at his family and friends with a smile on his face. A young, talented man gone far too soon.
Clouds is an utterly heartbreaking and emotionally powerful teen drama with extraordinary lead performances and a touching message at its core.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Directed by: Justin Baldoni
Distributed by: Disney+
Release Date: October 16, 2020
Running Time: 121 minutes