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, Tyler Hilton, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Robert Downey Jr
  • Director: Jon Poll
  • Writer: Gustin Nash
  • Producer: Sidney Kimmel, David Permut, Barron Kidd, Jay Roach, 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 Stone

    Stone

    Robert De Niro, Ed Norton and Milla Jovovich star in this drama thriller about a convicted arsonist trying to manipulate a parole officer with the help of his beautiful wife

  • Film4 Pusher

    Pusher

    Nicolas Winding Refn's Danish crime thriller is given a British makeover starring Richard Coyle and Agyness Deyn

    On Film4: 27 Feb 10:45PM

  • Film4 Men In Black 3

    Men In Black 3 on Film4

    When Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is killed in the past by a time-travelling villain, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to 1969 to save him, and teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) on Film4

  • Film4 Serenity

    Science-Fiction Season on Film4

    The future starts here! Film4's 2015 season of science fiction features classics of the genre, old and new

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Postcard from Sundance

    Dark Horse director Louise Osmond on visiting Sundance for the first time, where her film premiered to critical acclaim and won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. [caption id="attachme

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 signs development deal with Jonathan Glazer

    Film4 has announced a development deal with Under The Skin director Jonathan Glazer, continuing its longstanding relationship with the acclaimed British filmmaker. David Kosse, Director of Film4, s

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Share