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
Charlie Bartlett is a comedy film about Charlie, a rich kid who drops out of a private high school and experiences culture shock after enrolling into a public school. After being an outcast for a few days, he gains popularity by setting up a dubious enterprise that distributes medical drugs around the school. At the same time, he discovers that he has an ability to counsel and give advice to other students. Their problems include substance abuse, depression, and identity crisis. It turns out that the adults also have problems of their own. Charlie soon learns that things are not as simple as he originally expected.
The acting is the best aspect of the film. Anton Yelchin fits perfectly as Charlie. He has the ideal attitude and personality for the role. The gestures and facial expressions are spot on. This makes for an extremely likable and charismatic main character. For most of the film, Principal Gardner serves as Charlie's opposition. Robert Downy Jr. does a terrific job as Gardner, conveying a wide range of emotions that makes you truly sympathize him. The rest of the cast (mostly other students in the school) are likable in their own ways. Despite their personal flaws, you can see a change in most (although not all) of them throughout the film.
The plot has some good ideas in it. It carries some great messages about our personal and social lives. I would have liked to see some of the plot lines carried further. For example, the story surrounding Charlie's father is very artificial and felt like it was tagged on simply to make Charlie look more imperfect. With a little imagination, a whole lot more could have been done with it. Also, it felt like the conclusion did not implement all the ideas together.
The dialog and writing was a mixed result. Generally, it was good and even excelled at some moments. But there were other parts that seemed too over the top or plain silly. Granted, it was walking a thin line between comedy and drama, but it could have felt more realistic.
I hope I don't sound too critical, because I enjoyed Charlie Bartlett and would definitely watch it again. The characters were good and the plot was interesting. It has more substance than the usual comedy. If IMDb's voting scales were more incremented, it would perfectly fit in as a 7.5/10. A good comedy to start the year off, don't hesitate to check it out.
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