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With: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis, Kat Dennings, Tyler Hilton, Mark Rendall, Dylan Taylor, Megan Park, Jake Epstein, Jonathan Malen, Derek McGrath, Stephen Young, Ishan Dav�, David Brown, Eric Fink, Noam Jenkins, Lauren Collins, Annick Obonsawin, Sarah Gadon, Aubrey Graham, Michael D'Ascenzo
Written by: Gustin Nash
Directed by: Jon Poll
MPAA Rating: R for language, drug content and brief nudity
Running Time: 97
Date: 05/01/2007

Charlie Bartlett (2008)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Charlie Bartlett is one of those movies that hopes to catch a new generation of moviegoers, one that hasn't seen any older movies. If they have seen any older movies, they'll recognize in Charlie Bartlett strong echoes of Rushmore, Pump Up the Volume, Igby Goes Down, Thumbsucker, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and many others. The problem is that, once you remove this layer of imitations, nothing much remains. Anton Yelchin, with his charming, wormy voice, plays the title character a rebellious rich lad tossed out of one too many prep schools and forced to attend public school. (Predictably, he dresses in a jacket and tie his first day.) He begins seeing a shrink and taking various medications, which he then turns around and prescribes to the needy students at his depressing new school. His role as a bathroom stall shrink and pharmacist endears him to the entire school population, including the class bully, but excluding the school's alcoholic Principal Gardner (Robert Downey Jr.). Eventually Charlie must teach his classmates that they can make it without him, and he must win over the girl, the Principal's daughter, Susan (Kat Dennings). On top of that, the movie proposes and solves psychological conundrums for the Principal, Charlie's mom (Hope Davis), the bully (Tyler Hilton) and several other characters. In other words, it's one of those movies that starts out as a comedy but betrays the laughs when it's time to get serious. It's all too neat and prepared with too little inspiration, though Downey is magnetic when he manages to break through his narrow character. Jon Poll, an editor on many stupid comedies (Meet the Fockers, etc.) makes his feature directorial debut, from a screenplay by novice Gustin Nash. Charlie Bartlett

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