CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • TBC
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 2007
  • 97 mins

Charlie Bartlett

Charlie Bartlett

Synopsis

An attempt to consolidate every teen movie of the last 20 years into one easy-to-swallow feature

About

Charlie (a very likeable Yelchin) is expelled from public school for manufacturing fake IDs and, despite his well-heeled background and chauffeur-driven lifestyle, finds himself at a regular high school. There he's not at all popular. Not until he starts faking symptoms of various mental disorders to his shrink in order to sell his prescription drugs to fellow pupils.

Then everybody loves him and he's instantly transformed into "The Man", catching the eye of the principal's pouting daughter Susan (Dennings) and becoming a cross between an agony aunt and a drug dispensary to his fellow pupils.

Charlie Bartlett may just win the award as the most brazenly derivative film ever made. A more than capable cast cannot distract from the jaw-dropping amount of 'homage' chucked into the mix here.

Charlie is a smart man-child loner who lives with his wealthy, drug-addled mother (Davis) in a huge house (Harold And Maude). He talks to his teachers as though they were either his equals or his inferiors (Rushmore). He gains popularity at his new school and turns into a near folk hero (Ferris Bueller's Day Off). There's even a school bus scene (Napoleon Dynamite) complete with almost identical music. And let's not even talk about the repeated use of Cat Stevens' 'If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out' from the Harold And Maude soundtrack. At the end of this film it is reduced to a kind of cornball anthem sung by Susan in full-on Super Bowl solo at half time mode. And add to all this a poster which screams, "I AM THE NEW JUNO / NAPOLEON DYNAMITE AND YOU WILL LOVE ME."

Criticisms aside, Downey Jr is good as the alcoholic school principal, Gardener, who is struggling to maintain a relationship with his teenage daughter and driven to the brink by Charlie's precocious behaviour. Apart from their weakly-written exchanges, (Gardener: "You've taken everything from me. Why did you do that?" Charlie: "I'm just a kid"), the relationship between Yelchin and Downey is very watchable. Just with the sound down. And that's down to the lead actors having a far better understanding of what's going on than the writer. Any occasional flashes of promise throughout this film always prove to be borrowed from other superior offerings.

Why tackle the high school film genre if you're going to say nothing at all new about it? It's because, like the new kid in school, this movie just wants to be liked. And in that slightly creepy way that sees it turning up to school wearing the same clothes as you and deliberately sitting next to you in the canteen.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Kat Dennings, Hope Davis, Robert Downey Jr, Tyler Hilton, Anton Yelchin
  • Director: Jon Poll
  • Writer: Gustin Nash
  • Producer: Barron Kidd, Sidney Kimmel, Jay Roach, David Permut, William Horberg
  • Photographer: Paul Sarossy
  • Composer: Christophe Beck

In a nutshell

A+ for constant use of secondary sources. D- for originality. Could do a lot better.

by Julia Raeside

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Palo Alto

    Palo Alto

    First-time writer-director Gia Coppola adapts James Francos collection of linked short stories that tell of teenagers struggles with life, love and vice

  • Film4 The Judge

    The Judge

    In small-town Indiana, the local judge (Robert Duvall) is convicted of murder. Can his estranged big city lawyer son (Robert Downey Jr.), who specialises in getting crooks off the hook, save the day?

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share