Based on a True Story, Disney+'s New Biopic Clouds Shows the Importance of Living in the Moment
Based on a true story, Disney+'s new drama, Clouds, will certainly elicit some tears from even the most stoic viewer. Geared towards young adults, the movie details the life of Zach Sobiech, an outgoing teenager from Saint Paul, MN, who died of osteosarcoma — a type of bone cancer — on May 20, 2013, at 18 years old.
A talented musician who was beloved by friends and family, he wrote a song called "Clouds" that topped the Billboard charts in 2013. Although Zach had been through 24 rounds of chemotherapy in his lifetime, Clouds centers on the period after doctors told his family that he only had one year to live. Chock-full of incredible music and deeply touching moments, director Justin Baldoni illustrates the importance of living every day like there's no tomorrow.
Starring Fin Argus as Zach, we see how he grapples with mortality as well as how his inner circle makes sense of Zach's terminal diagnosis during his senior year of high school. A beautiful tribute to Zach's life — who clearly touched millions of hearts with his music — the film is based on a memoir written by Zach's mom, Laura, called Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way.
Given the content of Clouds, it's no surprise you'll want to grab a few boxes of tissues before queueing it up for family movie night. Scroll ahead to see what else parents should know.
It may make kids question their own mortality.
Viewers learn early on in the movie that Zach's diagnosis is terminal despite undergoing chemotherapy. Obviously, getting this news is completely gutting for Zach and his entire family. After being told he has a year to live, Zach decides to do everything in his power to spread joy to the people in his life.
Obviously, seeing a teenager — who should have his entire life ahead of him — grapple with his own death is hard to watch, and may cause children to reflect on their own mortality. It might be worth talking to your children about death, mentioning that there isn't always a tangible explanation for why sad things happen in life.
Although your children may cry at points throughout the movie, Clouds demonstrates how we shouldn't let a single day on earth go to waste.
Clouds shows how cancer affects an entire family, and by extension, the community.
Naturally, Zach isn't the only person who's affected by his diagnosis. His parents and three siblings are heartbroken as well. Viewers see how having a child who is terminally ill can put a strain on a marriage, as several arguments crop up between his mother, Laura (Neve Campbell) and his dad, Rob (Tom Everett Scott). Although there aren't any full-blown screaming matches, their disagreements combined with his siblings' realization that they're losing their brother shows how raw emotions can be.
Additionally, Zach's condition has a big impact on his community. In the beginning of the movie, the school principal Mr. Weaver (Lil Rel Howery) mentions to Zach that he shaved his head in his honor. Additionally, there are a handful of scenes that show his schoolmates coming together to support Zach in his final days.
Clouds illustrates that it's OK to be vulnerable or emotional in life.
Navigating a terminal illness is understandably the hardest thing a person may have to do in life. Of course, we all have a finite amount of time on earth, but learning you only have one year to live is another story. Initially after learning his diagnosis, we see Zach pull away from his girlfriend, Amy (Madison Iseman), by ending the relationship. Although they get back together later in the movie, Zach breaks down when they are alone together, eventually recklessly driving away from her house yelling and crying.
Zach's seemingly random outburst may prompt parents to start a discussion about how we react to bad news. It might be helpful to explain that sometimes people have delayed reactions to devastating things because they need more time to process how they feel. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to reinforce that it's OK not to be OK, and that teens should always reach out for support when they need it.
The last few scenes are absolutely heartbreaking.
At the end of the movie, the community comes together to throw a party for Zach after his doctors inform the family that he wouldn't make it to prom. Because of Zach's love of music, he attempts to perform "Clouds" live for the audience with his best friend, Sammy (Sabrina Carpenter) around the hour and 45-minute mark.
Despite putting in his best effort on stage, Zach is overtaken by a concerning coughing fit, and can't finish. Although the audience members help Zach finish the song, the scene is incredibly hard to watch and arguably the saddest part of the movie. Parents who aren't sure their kids can handle such an intense moment should consider fast-forwarding.
Families who are interested in supporting the cause can donate to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund. By supporting the fund, we can keep Zach's legacy alive and help find a cure for the cancer that took his life.