Review: ‘Clouds’ offers refreshing take on typical high school flick


Makayla Archambeault

“Clouds” was released on Disney+ on Oct. 16, 2020. The movie followed the true story of Zach Sobiech’s life as a cancer patient with a passion for music. The director, Justin Baldoni, made the movie in memory of Sobiech, who he was close friends with.

Samantha Haney, Opinions Editor

I have always been one of those people that skips forward in movies whenever possible to avoid the boredom of certain stories and scenes within the movie. So, when I sat down to watch Clouds I wasn’t sure it would be able to keep my attention. However, the moment the movie started playing, I was absorbed. My entire focus was on the movie and the characters. Even though I was watching it from my iPad rather than in a theater, I was still in the world displayed on my screen as much as was possible and not tempted by the control buttons. 

The movie Clouds follows the true story of Zach Sobiech, played by Fin Argus, and his career as a musician living with cancer during high school along with his best friend Sammy Brown, played by Sabrina Carpenter. It starts off the way any good movie should; with Sobiech running late to a performance and Brown suffering stage fright. At that point, it seems pretty normal, if not for Sobiech’s reliance on his crutches.

Numerous times throughout the movie, normal things get disrupted by the side effects of Sobiech’s cancer, the first disruption being when he tries to go on a date. It only took about the first 15 minutes for the plot to be laid out. 

The footage was simple, as it should be, and it definitely helped cut out unnecessary time. It also, when combined with the depth of the characters, helped to not make the movie uselessly complicated. There was drama, but it wasn’t escalated to an unrealistic level because of the footage used. When you first consider it, the movie seems like any other high school movie. However, the humor and music are two important aspects of what makes this movie so unique compared to other high school flicks.

When you have a main character as likable and funny as Sobiech, you know there is going to be underlying humor throughout the film. Especially when the second song that plays has a chorus made up of the word ‘wiggle’. Yep, you read that right, ‘wiggle’.

Although moments such as this might come off as cheezy, the humor throughout the film is necessary for a story as deep as the one portrayed. The second half of the movie specifically has the more emotional scenes, so having a light-hearted beginning that you can just laugh at helps prepare you for what’s coming. It also helps break up the conflicts, giving it a more realistic but cheerful feel. 

Although you would think Sobiech’s life with cancer would be the focal point, what stuck out for me was the music. While the real-life Sobiech passed away in 2013, the one thing that is obvious from the very beginning is how important music was to him and how much he loved it. From hilarious songs to songs with deeper meaning, the music helped give the movie a faster pace.

Not all of the songs were a fast tempo, but the soundtrack was specifically designed to fit the scenes and that helped make the movie feel as though it was constantly moving forward. The songs also featured multi-layered lyrics that, if you analyze enough, reveal easter eggs for different parts of the film.

One song, in particular, stood out to me. The very last song, the one that plays just before the credits, is written and performed by OneRepublic. This band is fronted by songwriter Ryan Tedder, who is known for writing emotional and relatable songs. He has written songs for multiple celebrities from the Jonas Brothers to Carrie Underwood. 

Knowing that, it is no surprise that one of his songs was included in the Clouds soundtrack. 

Wild Life was released as a single on Sept. 25, 2020, is all about being bold and living in the moment. In a movie about knowing your lifespan is limited, this song fits perfectly. Using the sound that is authentically his, this song is something that can fit the style of any number of people.

It starts off at a slower tempo, building up the speed but also the instrumentals. The first instrument sounds like a violin and every new instrument slid right into place. As the vocals get stronger throughout the song, it begins to feel like a motif of the movie. Sobiech starts off the story by being negligent of his cancer, but as he comes to accept it, Sobiech transforms into a more confident and spontaneous individual. 

Clouds was nothing like I expected, in all the best ways possible. For the first time in a while, I watched an entire movie without pressing the fast forward button once. It was refreshing to find a movie that didn’t have room for, or even seem to need, filler scenes and instead focused on what was really important in executing a beautiful story.