By: Da’Mon Guy
Charlie Bartlett is a multifaceted, feel good, coming of age story. It has something for anyone who enjoys a good movie. Anton Yelchin (Terminator: Salvation, Star Trek 2009), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man 2, Sherlock Holmes), Kat Dennings (Defendor, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), Hope Davis (The Lodger), and Tyler Hilton (Walk the Line) unite to bring this touching story to life.
Charlie Bartlett is the cliché story of the rich, troubled, teenager struggling to find himself. It opens with Charlie (Yelchin) being kicked out of his latest private school. Charlie was caught making false driver’s license for his schoolmates. so his heavily-medicated mother (Hope Davis) transfers her son to a public institution. Looking like a junior stockbroker in navy blazer and attaché case, he turns into a bully‘s punching bag, until he joins forces with former bully Murphy (Hilton) to sell prescription medication and split the profits. Charlie secures the meds from an assortment of pill-pushing psychiatrists. He even captures the interest of self-possessed drama queen Susan (Dennings), daughter of booze-soaked Principal Gardner (Downey Jr.). Gardner doesn't trust Charlie, but lacks the evidence to confirm his suspicions--so he sets out to secure some. Once he installs surveillance cameras, the game is on. By the end, the two will compete for control of the school and Susan’s interest.
The plot of Charlie Bartlett isn’t anything new but a couple of things about this movie seperates it from other movies with similar plots. The performances of each of the main characters and the different comedic takes that they approach serious issues make the movie stand out. Charlie appears to be an uppity, rich kid, but he is however, very likable even vulnerable. Yelchin’s performance allows us to have sympathy for the character. He makes us want Charlie to succeed as he aspires to climb into the ranks of high school popularity.
Robert Downey, Jr. delivers a good performance as the Kit’s father
and the principal. He represents the everyday struggles that some adults have as parents. His performance confronts the struggles with parenting, career, and even alcoholism. He also doubles as one of Charlie’s nemesis and the father figure that he has lost. Kit Dennings does an admirable job as Susan, the principal’s daughter and Charlie’s girlfriend. Hope Davis as Charlie’s mother is excellent. She has been struggling with being a single parent in Charlie’s father’s absence. Finally, Tyler Hinton as Murphy, the former bully turned friend to Charlie is an excellent addition to the story.
Charlie Bartlett is superbly interwoven with comedic elements that give the movie a light, humorous atmosphere in spite of the seriousness of the subject matter. It confronts a multitude of teen issues such as drug/ alcohol abuse, bullying, suicide, single parenting, rebellion and acceptance. An example of how the movie addresses then adds a comedic take to the serious issues that plague teens is how teens need an outlet for problems. Charlie assumes the role of the school psychiatrist. By listening to their problems and offering well-researched advice, the unlicensed doc becomes the most popular kid on campus. He begins to hold sessions in the school bathroom. He offers advice to his fellow teen in what become know as “bathroom confessionals.”
Charlie Bartlett is a great family movie. It is an excellent blend of drama and humor. The movie addresses so many concerns of adults and teens but is entertaining enough not to bore us to death in the process of confronting these issues. In addition, all of the characters in the story are well written and portrayed as each serve as a vehicle for different issues in today’s world of growing from adolescence into adulthood. I really liked this movie and
would definitely recommend it to all.