Clouds (2020 film)
|Directed by||Justin Baldoni|
|Screenplay by||Kara Holden|
|Based on||Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way|
by Laura Sobiech
|Edited by||Brett M. Reed|
|Music by||Brian Tyler|
Clouds is a 2020 American biographical musical drama film directed and produced by Justin Baldoni and written by Kara Holden from a story by Holden, Patrick Kopka, and Casey La Scala. It is based upon the memoir Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way by Laura Sobiech. The film stars Fin Argus, Sabrina Carpenter, Madison Iseman, Neve Campbell, Tom Everett Scott, and Lil Rel Howery, following the life of Zach Sobiech.
In the fall of 2012, Zach Sobiech performs an acoustic rendition of "Sexy and I Know It" to an amused crowd at his school's talent show. Zach has been struggling with osteosarcoma and has been receiving regular treatments for it. His best friend, Sammy Brown, conspires with him by helping him to write music ("Blueberries"). Zach manages to ask out fellow student Amy Adamle for a picnic, but before he is able to do so, he begins to have a coughing fit that concerns his mother, Laura, who rushes him to the hospital. He has a collapsed lung and emergency surgery is performed on him. While they fix his lung, they learn that the treatments are no longer effective and his cancer is now terminal, giving him six to ten months to live. Zach tells Sammy and Amy about his diagnosis while he is inspired by his teacher, Milton Weaver, about what he is to do with the rest of his life.
In the winter of 2012, Zach and his family go to Lourdes, France, in Laura's desperate attempt at Zach having some sort of miracle. Zach returns home to hang out with Sammy ("Coffee Cup") and learns that she has bought tickets to a Jason Mraz concert. Zach decides to use the opportunity to ask Amy out to prom and she accepts ("I'm Yours"). After having convulsions, Zach goes to Sammy's house in the middle of the night demanding that they form a band. Both realize that they have romantic feelings for each other, but that they are incapable of having a full relationship. They continue to bond over songwriting ("Fix Me Up") and Sammy posts their music on YouTube which earns them some fame. Despite this, Zach is certain that he will fail to achieve anything beyond the video. He is later given encouragement by Mr. Weaver.
Zach's father, Rob, borrows a Nissan GT-R for him to drive and impress Amy with. While at her house, the two proceed to make out ("My Little Dancer"), but when Amy comments on his scars, Zach becomes despondent and tells her that he will never offer the things she wants from him and breaks up with her while leaving in a huff. Laura confronts Rob over the decision to get a car for Zach and he breaks down admitting that he did it to make his son happy as he is unable to do anything about his eventual death. In the spring of 2013, Weaver reveals to Zach and Sammy that he showed their video to BMI and that they want to sign them. They head to New York City to sign their contracts, calling their band A Firm Handshake ("Ames"). On the flight back home, Zach suddenly has a moment of creative energy and writes the song "Clouds" and records it shortly afterwards, becoming a colossal hit.
Zach finally makes the time to apologize to Amy about his behavior and the two of them get back together. Zach speaks privately to his mother about how to handle his remains and his funeral, suggesting bagpipes be played. Sammy and the Sobiechs learn that Zach might not make it to prom. With Zach having been given the opportunity to play at the Metro Theatre, they decide to combine the concert with prom, a graduation, and a fundraiser for osteosarcoma. The day arrives and despite Zach's worsening condition, he decides to go perform anyway. Sammy begins the show by performing "How to Go to Confession" before Zach heads out to perform "Clouds". Zach's breathing begins to labor, but he is moved when the entire audience sings the song for him.
Zach passes away on May 20, 2013. Even though he never made it, Zach wrote a college essay telling people that you don't need to find out you're dying to start living. Sammy, Amy and other friends come together for a group photo in remembrance of Zach, noticing that a cloud in the sky resembles a "Z". During the credits, footage of the real Zach and Sammy play combined with footage of the filmmakers filming scenes of the movie as well as the cast and crew meeting with the real people involved in Zach's life ("Sandcastles").
- Fin Argus as Zach Sobiech, Rob and Laura's son
- Madison Iseman as Amy Adamle, Zach's girlfriend
- Sabrina Carpenter as Sammy Brown, Zach's best friend
- Lil Rel Howery as Milton Weaver, Zach's teacher
- Tom Everett Scott as Rob Sobiech, Zach's father and Laura's husband
- Neve Campbell as Laura Sobiech, Zach's mother and Rob's wife
- Summer H. Howell as Grace Sobiech, Zach's younger sister
- Vivien Endicott-Douglas as Alli Sobiech, Zach's older sister
- Dylan Everett as Sam Sobiech, Zach's older brother
- Jason Mraz as himself
Justin Baldoni's wife Emily Baldoni appears as a CNN reporter. Many of Zach Sobiech's real life acquaintances make cameos in the film. Seventy of Zach's friends and family members cameo during the crowd shots during the Jason Mraz concert and the concert at the end of the film. Zach's real life friend Mitchell Kluesner, essentially playing himself, appears in the classroom scene sitting behind Zach. The real Grace Sobiech appears as a high school student early on in the film while the real Amy Adamle appears along with Madison Iseman at the dance studio.
In February 2016, it was announced Warner Bros. had acquired rights to the memoir Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way by Laura Sobiech, with Justin Baldoni set to direct the film. In September 2019, Fin Argus, Madison Iseman and Sabrina Carpenter joined the cast of the film. In October 2019, Neve Campbell, Tom Everett Scott and Lil Rel Howery joined the cast of the film.
Principal photography began on October 19, 2019. Most of it was filmed in Baie-D'Urfé, Quebec, Canada and in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, Canada. Part of it was filmed at Heritage Regional High School and neighbouring school École secondaire André-Laurendeau. Filming wrapped on November 27, 2019.
On May 14, 2020, it was announced Disney+ had taken over distribution rights to the film from Warner Bros., in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry. Clouds was released on October 16, 2020. A making-of documentary series entitled Beyond the Clouds was released from December 4, 2020 to January 29, 2021.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 76% based on 25 reviews, with an average rating of 6.60/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Although its emotional swings occasionally miss, Clouds soars higher than most young adult films -- and proved director Justin Baldoni's mastery behind the camera." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on 7 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Common Sense Media rated the movie 4 out of 5 stars, stating : "Parents need to know that Clouds is the true, often sad story of Zach Sobiech (Fin Argus), a teenager diagnosed with terminal cancer who became known to many via his hit song "Clouds," which was recorded in the final months of his life. But the movie has a generally positive tone, thanks to Zach's natural good nature. In an opening scene, he sings "Sexy and I Know It" in front of a high school audience, dancing suggestively and conveying both popularity and a self deprecating sense of humor. Scenes show him struggling with illness, undergoing chemotherapy, being rushed in for emergency surgery, and facing his own terminal diagnosis. He occasionally reacts with anger and deception to his fate, including a scene in which he almost crashes a car. He's also painfully aware of the grief he's bringing to his loved ones, including his tight-knit family, a girlfriend, and his best friend, who all exhibit courage and compassion in their handling of Zach's illness. Scenes with his girlfriend include some kissing, snuggling in bed, vague references to sex, and removal of an outer layer of clothing. Catholic faith is implied, especially in a trip to Lourdes, France. The movie is based on the book by Sobiech's mother".
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- Disney+ [@disneyplus] (September 9, 2020). "One song inspired the world. Clouds, an Original Movie based on the true story of Zach Sobiech, starts streaming Oct. 16 only on #DisneyPlus. #CloudsMovie" (Tweet). Retrieved September 10, 2020 – via Twitter.
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