Charlie Bartlett


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Rating: R

Anton Yelchin as Charlie Bartlett
Robert Downey Jr. as Principal Gardner
Hope Davis as Marilyn Bartlett
Kat Dennings as Susan Gardner
Tyler Hilton as Murphey Bivens
Mark Rendall as Kip Crombwell
Dylan Taylor as Len Arbuckle
Megan Park as Whitney Drummond
Jake Epstein as Dustin Lauderbach
Jonathan Malen as Jordan Sunder
Derek McGrath as Superintendent Sedgwick
Stephen Young as Dr. Stan Weathers
Ishan Davé as Henry Freemont
David Brown as Officer Hansen
Eric Fink as Thomas

Special Features:
Audio Commentary with Director Jon Poll & Writer Gustin Nash
Audio Commentary with Director Jon Poll & Actors Anton Yelchin & Kat Dennings
Restroom Confidential Featurette
Music Video: “Voodoo” by Spiral Beach

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) and Fullscreen (1.33;1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Subtitles
Spanish Language
Running Time: 97 Minutes

The following is from the official description of the DVD:

“The kids at Western Summit High have ‘issues’, and newcomer Charlie Bartlett is coming to their rescue. With a briefcase full of prescription pills and a head full of pop psychology, this rebel with a cause brings hilarious help to the student body and unending grief to its neurotic principal, Mr. Gardner (Robert Downey, Jr.). Suddenly, Charlie is the hottest man on campus and he’s even caught the eye of Gardner’s sultry daughter. An outrageous comic spin on today’s Prozac generation, Charlie Bartlett has your prescription for laugh-out-loud insanity!”

“Charlie Bartlett” is rated R for language, drug content and brief nudity.

The Movie:
As I watched “Charlie Bartlett,” I got the vague feeling that I had seen it before. It reminded me of a modern, less funny attempt to recreate “Ferris Bueller”… or any number of teen angst movies. The problem I had with “Charlie Bartlett” was that I wasn’t at all sympathetic with these depressed teens. Bartlett is insanely rich. All the students live in a really nice neighborhood. The principal comes across as an accommodating guy, yet they rebel against him and get him in trouble. Their biggest problem seems to be that the school is putting cameras in a student lounge. (I never went to a school that had a private student lounge and just about every school in America has cameras now – get over it.) In short, these teens need to quit whining. There are bigger problems out there for teens to deal with.

I also wasn’t terribly fond of Charlie Bartlett himself. He comes across as an insecure, ego driven character that resorts to dealing drugs to his fellow students in order to win friends and acceptance – all while in a cute, charming package. Yes, the movie does show a down side to Charlie’s makeshift psychiatric pharmacy, but it seems to be a minor plot point compared to showing how much fun it is to get high on Ritalin. The character seems to have very little remorse or regret for his actions.

All this being said, the cast of “Charlie Bartlett” is excellent. Anton Yelchin stands out as Charlie Bartlett. Despite my displeasure with his character, he does carry the movie and does so well. Look for him in the upcoming “Star Trek” and “Terminator” films. Kat Dennings is also impressive as Susan Gardner, Charlie’s love interest. It’s nice to see the hero pining after a girl besides the cheerleader. And Robert Downey Jr. is also good in this pre-“Iron Man” role as Principal Gardner. His scenes dealing with depression and addiction are quite impressive.

I’d recommend “Charlie Bartlett” to anyone that loves the teen angst genre. You’ll probably be more receptive to this than I was. Anyone wanting to see more of Anton Yelchin before his “Star Trek” and “Terminator” debuts will want to see this as well – he really shows what he can do here. Robert Downey Jr. fans may enjoy this, too, but this is mainly a supporting role and he’s quite toned down from his usual performances.

The DVD is rather light on bonus features. There are two commentaries, a music video, and a gag featurette. The cast sits in the bathroom stall and crack jokes about their characters.