Charlie Bartlett Takes Us Back to High School
The new film from Robert Downey Jr. reminds us of the difficulties of adolescence
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis, Kat Dennings
Director: Jon Poll
Script: Gustin Nash
Who could forget how difficult that first day of high school was? Especially at public schools, where our years of adolescence taught us some of our most important life lessons. This is why Charlie Bartlett works as a comedy and as a personal-growth movie. Despite the turbulent moments we've gone through, I think most people would agree that they look back on those years with pleasant feelings, and the second film from Jon Poll – who did the movie The Tree in 1982 – puts those pleasant feelings center stage.
Charlie, who's played by talented Russian actor Anton Yelchin, narrates this simple story about high school students. Even though Charlie comes from a rich family, he enrolls in a public school after being expelled from various private institutes.
Eager to fit in and obsessed with making his classmates respect him, Charlie starts dealing mind-altering drugs and develops a reputation as the go-to guy who gives advice to other students in the boys room.
As the film moves on, Charlie becomes the most popular kid in school, which grabs the attention of the strict principal Gardner (Robert Downey Jr.), who's also the father of Charlie's love interest.
The director presents the script from new screenwriter Gustin Nash honestly and sensibly. Unfortunately, what's missing from the film are those magic moments the likes of those found in classic '80s high school flicks from director John Hughes.
Don't expect this film to be the Ferris Bueller's Day Off or The Breakfast Club of the new millennium. But Charlie Bartlett will definitely take you on a nostalgic ride back to your high school days and remind you of the obstacles we all faced during adolescence.