Disney’s Inspiring Film ‘Clouds’ Teaches Us How to Live … and Die

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The best movie of the year may be a new Disney film that never landed in theaters.

Clouds (PG-13), now on Disney Plus, follows the inspirational story of Zach Sobiech, a joy-filled high schooler who is diagnosed with bone cancer and told by his doctor he likely has only a few months to live.

But instead of wasting his final days on Earth, Sobiech chooses to separate the important stuff from the trivial.

Realizing he has a talent from God, he begins writing music about his situation, about his joy in life, about hope and optimism. Eventually, one of his songs (also called Clouds) becomes a hit.

“I hope my story helps everyone to realize that you don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living,” he says.

The movie is based on a true story about the real Zach Sobiech, a Minnesota teenager who died in 2013 but wrote music in his final months. His best-known song (Clouds) has been streamed or downloaded 200 million times.   

In the film, his mother tells him, “Maybe this is some kind of weird chance for you to forget about all the superficial stuff that people waste their time on.”

Sobiech is faced with multiple gut-wrenching questions, knowing death is just around the corner: Does he pursue a romance with his girlfriend? Does he write a college essay, as all his classmates are doing? Does he go to his own graduation party if he’s too weak?

Clouds has faith elements, even though it’s not a traditional faith-based film. Asked what he wants to be read at his funeral, Sobiech answers: The Parable of the Talents.

“That one makes sense to me,” he says.

(In real life, Sobiech’s mother said she prayed, “Okay, Lord, you can have him. But if he must die, I want it to be for something big. I want someone’s life to be changed forever.”)

Clouds is an entertaining film that’s filled with uplifting music, a gripping storyline and a sweet romance. Mostly, though, it’s inspiring. It encourages us to contemplate eternity and to concentrate on what truly matters. It urges us to live life with joy and to cast aside worthless distractions. It tells us to live as each day may be our last.   

It’s rated PG-13 for “brief strong language,” yet I didn’t catch anything. (I spoke with three friends who watched it and also didn’t hear any strong language.) At the most, it has a couple of OMGs (which sound a lot like “gosh”). Additionally, there are at least two scenes parents may want to skip: a scene at the beginning of the film where Zach sings a made-up song about his body (his mom hates the tune) and a scene where he and his girlfriend kiss at her house (Zach runs out before it goes too far). It should have been rated PG. For those who want it, ClearPlay offers a filter for the movie.

It stars Fin Argus as Sobiech; Sabrina Carpenter as his best friend, Sammy; and Madison Iseman as his girlfriend, Amy.

Clouds may be the best film of the year. At least, it deserves a nomination.    

Also streaming this month:

Adults/teens

Enola Holmes (Netflix) — Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister, Enola, tries to find her missing mother. The film stars Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) as the opinionated and spunky Enola. It’s rated PG-13 for some violence and minor language. ClearPlay offers a filter.

Free State of Jones (Netflix) — A Mississippi farmer named Newton Knight turns against the Confederacy during the Civil War and leads an uprising. Free State of Jones is based on a true story and includes strong faith elements, including by Knight, a Christian. It’s rated R for war violence but includes no sexuality and only minor language. VidAngel offers a filter for the Amazon Prime version.

Superman Returns (Netflix) — Superman returns to Earth after a five-year absence and discovers — to his surprise — we have learned to live without him. ClearPlay offers a filter for the Amazon Prime version.

Children

The Magic School Bus Rides Again: The Frizz Connection (Netflix) — Lightning splits the Magic School Bus into three sections, scattering the class across the globe.

Carmen Sandiego: Season 3 (Netflix) — Carmen continues her battle against the evil V.I.L.E as she travels to such locations as Venice, Mexico City and New Orleans.

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment for more than 15 years. He is the husband of a wife, Julie, and the father of four young children.

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