Clouds is the kind of movie that tells you the ending at the very beginning, but still makes you ugly cry because it’s so touching you can’t take it. Inspired by true events, Clouds is a movie about taking something tragic and making it beautiful through art. Whether you heard the titular song when it soared to number 1 in 2012 or are just discovering it now, the entire experience is guaranteed to stay with you long after the credits roll.
Zach Sobiech (Fin Argus) is a teenager who’s losing his battle with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. Knowing his days are numbered, Zach sheds his insecurities and spends his time focusing on making music with his best friend Sammy (Sabrina Carpenter) while navigating romantic feelings with his first love Amy (Madison Iseman). But the one thing he never planned on was the world being impacted by his music, becoming a viral sensation with his song “Clouds.”
With a PG-13 rating, Clouds is a little more mature than your typical Disney+ Original. An independent production from Wayfarer Studios, the film deals with many themes that don’t typically come from Disney while still having family at its core. Based on Laura Sobiech’s book Clouds: A Memoir, the film feels deeply personal with realistic family dynamics as its main anchor.
All of the performances are rock solid, with Fin Argus carrying the film in a role that seemingly required a lot of physical work in addition to emotional preparation. Neve Campbell and Tom Everett Scott do a remarkable job as Zach’s parents with the film spending some time on how Zach’s terminal diagnosis has impacted their marriage. While the main thruline of the story follows how Zach affects those around him with the way he handles dying, a lot of viewers will be touched by the way the adults around him deal with it too, including his teacher Mr. Weaver (Lil Rel Howery).
Director Justin Baldoni explored opportunities for visual poetry in the film’s narrative language. The plot moves linearly from around the time Zach discovers his cancer is terminal to the known ending. Using a reflection of clouds in the sky indicating the season and year, audiences are rewarded for staying with the film until the last shot before the credits roll with a very touching connection.
I recently saw another film with a similar theme, The Fault in Our Stars, which was a more romanticised story about teens with terminal cancer. While The Fault in Our Stars may have made for a better movie watching experience, Clouds is poetically grounded in reality for a film with such a title. Ultimately, it can become a godsend for anyone battling cancer and their families with an inspiring message about how to do it with grace, love, and passion.
I give Clouds 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Clouds premiers Friday, October 16th, on Disney+.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.