Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis, Kat Dennings, Tyler Hilton
Does it seem like when one movie shows incredible success, another one is released in a similar vein? Or is it just me? Case in point: “Charlie Bartlett,” the latest movie to afford comparison to the very popular teen movie, “Juno.”
These movies focus on the angst and problems of life in high school. Real issues are addressed in both. “Juno” deals with teen pregnancy and the admirable choice of adoption. “Charlie Bartlett” deals with wanting to be accepted, included and admired by one’s peers.
The difference is that the character in “Juno” is grounded in a more familiar, middle class family. Charlie Bartlett is in a league of his own. Perhaps there lies the difference and its lack of appeal.
Bartlett is the only child of a wealthy power couple. Issues of circumstance and deceit motivate Bartlett to be expelled from upper-crust private schools, one after the other. He has great financial amenities and intelligence to conjure up all kinds of illegal schemes involving fellow classmates.
His mother, played by the talented Hope Davis, gives a performance that partly explains why Bartlett is the way he is. Her ditzy demeanor, unquestionable trust and her offer to add a wing to a school to avoid Bartlett’s expulsion makes us tolerate his predicament. However, it doesn’t make us pity him.
Once in a public school, he charms his way into popularity by offering psychiatric advice and illegal prescription drugs to students in his makeshift office in the boy’s latrine.
How that situation went unnoticed by the principal or any other teacher for more than a day defies reality. Even so, the principal, played by Robert Downey Jr., adds weight to this film.
Downey gives a convincing performance as a rejected recovering alcoholic whose despair is real and palpable enough to reach Charlie in his recklessness.
We care about Downey’s character. By default, or by having paid the price of a movie ticket, we more or less care about Charlie Bartlett.
Wait for it on DVD.
Chic Stars: Two Chic Stars
Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.