Charlie Bartlett (2007)
|Genre(s): Comedy / Drama|
|MGM || R - 97 minutes - $27.98 || June 24, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-06-06|
Writer(s): Gustin Nash (written by)
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Kat Dennings, Robert Downey Jr.
Theatrical Release Date: Febrary 22, 2008
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Let me get this out of the way. It is something every critic and his mother have pointed out about the movie, Charlie Bartlett: it takes more than a few cues, albeit more dramatic in tone, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. One needs not look further than that iconic shot at the end of FBDO with Broderick, laying down with his hands behind his head, to see that director Jon Poll and writer Gustin Nash, have delivered a somewhat updated version of the 1980s Matthew Broderick classic. Yes, the comparisons are there but Charlie Bartlett does stand out on its (his) own right.
Charlie Bartlett (Yelchin; upcoming new Terminator franchise) is a troubled rich kid who has been kicked out of several private schools for his shenanigans, the latest making fake IDs for his peers. His mother (Davis; The Nines) is a passive woman who finds it hard to get mad at her son. The two are very close, singing ‘Those Were the Days’, the theme from “All in the Family” together and with Charlie allowed to get away with pretty much anything without consequence. Of course, with Charlie’s father is in prison, they have only each other to depend on.
Without any more private schools to attend, Charlie is sent into the public school system. His early experiences aren’t, as anyone who remembers high school, great. He first has a run in with the school bully; he doesn’t help matters by wearing a shirt, tie and dress jacket either... After his shrink prescribes him Ritalin because he may or may not have A.D.D., Charlie fledges a plan that would make him the most popular kid in school. Holding sessions in the boy’s restroom, and with the help of several unsuspecting psychiatrists, he subscribes medication to the students using diagnosis from medical books and with the help of the bully-turned-business partner.
Charlie also meets and develops a crush on Susan Gardner (Dennings), who also happens to be the principal’s daughter (played by the, before Iron Man, underused and underappreciated Robert Downey Jr.). With Charlie’s spotty record and a growing popularity with the school population ready and willing to do whatever Charlie says, Principal Gardner already isn’t keen on Mr. Bartlett, but it’s a new game when Charlie has his eyes on Susan.
Charlie Bartlett is a charming, witty little film that is probably the most “real” teen movie about teens. As much as I enjoyed Juno with the title character’s snappy remarks, I think Bartlett does a better job with showcasing what the current generation of teens is going through. At the center is prescription abuse, a new substance abuse where drugs like Ritalin can be taken to receive a quick high.
But rather than just be a social commentary, Charlie Bartlett is also a film with a heart, even with a main character that is a bit on the reckless side. There is a moment in the film where Charlie realizes what he’s done, so he doesn’t necessarily go unpunished, so the side effects of prescription abuse does not go unnoticed.
Moving away from the “heavy” aspects of the story, the movie also has a good heart and with a charming lead actor in Anton Yelchin, you can’t help but to like him. Along with the aforementioned Robert Downey Jr. in a tailored made role, I was also impressed with Kat Dennings’ performance as Charlie’s female counterpart. She’s a teenager going through the same type of issues as Charlie and they find a kinship with one another.
Overall, Charlie Bartlett is a delightful little film that doesn’t have to rely on slick and catchy lines (not a dig at Juno, just saying these are two different kinds of films). With a charming lead and a promising actress in Dennings, this is a movie well worth the time and effort to watch.
Side A on the disc contains a music video (2:59), presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, and a commentary track with director Jon Poll and stars Anton Yelchin and Kat Dennings. It’s an enjoyable track and, with cast members, my favorite kind.
Side B has another feature commentary with, once again, director Poll and writer Gustin Nach. This track isn't as lively as the other one, but still a good listen for more technical info. There's also Restroom Confessional, a dumb featurette merely showing various cast or crew doing their own confessions.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Having received the final product, I can say the video on this disc does look pretty good. Exectations on comedies and dramas aren't going to be the same for action or science ficion, but this one looks to be a proper transfer
Assuming the audio is the same as the final disc, MGM has provided a simple Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Other than some choice songs and some instrumentals, this is a dialog driven movie. It’s nothing outstanding, but appropriate for most.
Charlie Bartlett is a great film filled with charm and heart. With great performances by Downey Jr., Yelchin and Dennings, I have no problem recommending this title to own. Nevertheless, with 2 out of the 5 ratings unavailable due to this screener, I cannot give a fair and accurate rating until I can examine the final product.