Efron plays the eponymous hero, a sailing prodigy bound for Stanford University. He has a bright future, until a car crash - with Charlie at the wheel - takes the life of his younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan).
Sam's dying wish is that Charlie will practise baseball with him every day at sunset. And after the funeral, Charlie finds Sam's spirit and learns he can interact with him physically.
Five years on, Charlie has "deferred" attending university, given up sailing and taken a job as a caretaker in a cemetery. True to his word, the brothers "meet" every evening as the sun sets.
Everyone thinks Charlie is crazy, except for Tess Carroll (Amanda Crew), a sailor who he starts to fall for. In the end, Charlie is faced with a dilemma - keep the promise he made to Sam or go after the girl he loves.
Unfortunately there is little to keep the audience hooked: Charlie running off into the woods every day to "see dead people" gets boring very quickly.
Charlie St Cloud clearly counts on the popularity of Efron's squeaky clean image and boyish looks rather than any potential talent. Regrettably, this is neither the role nor the performance to signal his break from the High School Musical mould.