A young Jewish American man endeavors to find the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II in a Ukrainian village, that was ultimately razed by the Nazis, with the help of an eccentric local.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Although cheerful, friendly, intelligent, well-dressed, authentic and wealthy, Charlie Bartlett has problems. With his father gone and his mother loopy and clueless, he's been expelled from every private school for his victimless crimes. Now he's in a public school getting punched out daily by the school thug. He ever longs to be popular - the go-to guy - and the true crux of his troubles is that he invariably finds the means to this end, whatever that might be. At Western Summit High, he makes peace with his tormentor by going into business with him - listening to kids' problems and selling them prescription drugs. Charlie's a hit, but attraction to Susan (daughter of the school's laissez-faire principal), new security cameras on campus, a student's overdose, and Charlie's open world view all converge to get him in serious trouble. Can this self-made physician possibly heal himself and just be a kid? Written by
I highly doubt many of those who are reading this are old enough to remember the year 1986, or the theatrical release Ferris Bueller's Day Off (John Hughes). Still, I trust that there are those of you have seen the movie on TV, or DVD, or even on the prehistoric VHS. Well, the small-budget, diamond in the dust movie of the year borrows heavily from it, taking both old and new material and making it into something fresh. This hidden gem is Charlie Bartlett.
Charlie Bartlett is the story of a young high school student with roots in royalty. Seemingly destined for a posh life, he constantly finds himself in situations involving expulsions due to fraud (hundreds of fake I.D.s given to schoolmates, for example). Soon, Charlie has been kicked out of nearly every private school within 100 miles of his house-mansion. With no alternatives left, Charlie quickly finds himself attending a public school with regular, everyday students. From here, he decides the only way to fit in is to become a lord of sorts, and begins handing out prescription drugs to those students truly in need with no way of getting them, while playing the role of psychiatrist. Of course, this bears consequences in the form of the principle And said principle's daughter.
An intelligent and witty movie, Charlie Bartlett is this generations Ferris Bueller. From the smooth, careless main character, to the parents being completely exaggerated in every manner, it all fits. The dialogue flows well and is witty throughout. Many teens will walk out thinking "That's not how teens talk!" Well, take it from a teen. There are those out there who would rather die than be seen writing out "Lyke Omg I luv ur new shoez!".
Now, the acting. Easily the best part of the movie, and also the weakest link. Up and coming actor Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog) plays the role perfectly, never missing a beat. He plays happy and carefree when he needs to, but the next second he's so smug you want to smack him. It's perfection in the form of a teen. And of course, we have Robert Downey Jr. (Zodiac, Iron Man) gracing the screen in the form of Principle Gardner. The chemistry between the two hits every note, and doesn't waver for a minute. But, where perfection is seen, flaws are even more defined. Next to the two leads, many of the actors filling in the smaller roles seem to almost be trying to match them. And it doesn't come off well, with over-acting filling many scenes. Still, do not let it perturb you, as the powerful presentations easily overshadow the lesser ones.
My only nitpick in the movie that really took anything out of the movie It was very obviously written by middle aged men trying to put themselves in the shoes of teens. In places it worked, but in others it came across as very forced and unrealistic. The school is very paint by the numbers. Let blue represent jocks, play out red as the airheaded cheerleaders and throw yellow in for the geeks, and you can paint a portrait of cliché.
All this being said, the movie has its up and downs. Depending on your mood, this movie could be for you. If you're looking for a smart movie with witty dialogue and good acting, and are willing to temporarily suspend everything you know of high school, this movies for you. Otherwise, for those more plot less, action oriented movie fans Well, there's always Jumper.
4 out of 5 stars
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