A grieving father in a downward spiral stumbles across a box of his recently deceased son's demo tapes and lyrics. Shocked by the discovery of this unknown talent, he forms a band in the hope of finding some catharsis.
William H. Macy
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
The most memorable song in the film is Cat Stevens' "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out." This song was also used repeatedly in Harold and Maude (1971), another movie about a wealthy but troubled young man. See more »
Charlie's hair has been roughly towel dried after a fall into Nathan's swimming pool. At 1:28:51, Charlie says "No, you're her father, and she loves you very much, and you're totally missing it." Between cuts in filming this spoken sentence, Charlie's towel-dried hair changes shape. See more »
Thank You. Thank you very much. Thank you. How you all doing tonight. It's great to see all of you here. My name is Charlie Bartlett.
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"No teenagers were harmed in the making of this motion picture." See more »
Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)
Written by Mark Oliver Everett (as Mark O. Everett)
Performed by The Eels (as Eels)
Courtesy of Vagant Records LLC/Interscope Records
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises See more »
If you're pining for a modern John Hughes type teen comedy (such as Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller's Day Off), then Charlie Bartlett would certainly fit the bill. It's like an anti-American Pie. The teens are not obsessed with sex, it has heart and even a few dramatic elements. It's not as funny as American Pie type movies but that's not the point. Charlie Bartlett is basically a good-hearted very smart rich kid expelled from all his previous private schools who wants to be popular and becomes a kind of psychiatrist for his fellow classmates in a "normal" public high school.
The actor portraying him did a remarkable job showing his eccentricities while keeping him likable and sweet despite his less than legal actions. I'm not quite sure how likely such a character would be in real life but he's certainly interesting. I also enjoyed the other teens portrayed (most being two-dimensional instead of one-dimensional caricatures) and wish there had been more washroom confessionals. Robert Downey Jr is once again wonderful as a loving father and tormented principal who's not completely "evil" as in most movies of this type. I liked the understated uncomplicated romantic aspect and it kind of made me wish for first love again although I've seen this done better in several other movies. Overall, it's a charming teen movie, not overtly real-life melodramatic, nor overtly over-the-top ridiculous, as we rarely see in this cynical 21st century. It's a good rental and a decent purchase if you like high school dramatic comedies.
Rating: 7 out of 10
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