Charlie Bartlett

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Anton Yelchin, Kat Dennings, Tyler Hilton, Robert Downey, Jr. Teen comedy. Written by Gustin Nash. Directed by Jon Poll.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Charlie becomes an underground, not to mention underage, shrink who listens to the private confessions of his schoolmates, and makes the imprudent decision to hand out the pills he's proffered from his own psychiatric sessions. Meanwhile, at home, Charlie keeps charming his way out of an inevitable confrontation with his adoring but utterly overwhelmed mother, Marilyn. Then, Charlie Bartlett makes his big mistake--falling in love with the beautiful and bold daughter of the school's increasingly disenchanted principal, who is hot on his trail. As Charlie Bartlett's world and fledgling psychiatric practice unravel, he begins to discover there's a whole lot more to making a difference than handing out pills.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I suppose every film nowadays is the distillation of several past movies. In this case, Charlie Bartlett is part Ferris Bueller, part Rushmore and certainly part Harold and Maude (the producers even use the Cat Stevens song If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out from that movie). But theres no problem with that, so long as the films being pilfered are of the excellence of the aforementioned entries. This production takes the essence of those films and molds them into a product designed to salute a new generation. Its smart not profound, mind you (we seldom do profound in movies these days), but Charlie Bartletts quirky illustration of teen life, which avoids mockery or heavy-handed ruminations, coupled with its iconoclastic lead character, gives the audience an entertaining movie-going experience.

But the underlining theme of being an individual is handled with shallowness and the treatments of drug use and teen sex do anything but point out their pitfalls. The lead becomes a pusher of prescribed drugs in order to win over his fellow students. When a fellow student nearly overdoses, our young hero tosses the rest of the narcotics down the toilet. Lesson learned. Or is it? Im not sure the film sends a strong enough message that doping yourself up merely deadens the pain of the problem, never kills it. And when Charlie finally loses his virginity at the ripe old age of seventeen, theres no evidence that he uses protection. Nor does he use much discretion. Rather, he announces his deflowering to the entire student body. In real life, I suspect the girl might have problems with that announcement. Maybe not; when last I was in high school, the cheerleaders wore knee socks and saddle shoes. Footwear has changed almost as much as views on morality.

As for that individuality bit, youngsters, I wouldnt get your hopes up too much. Forming your own style and opinions only meets with the acceptance of your peers when they share the same desire. In other words, kids, dont expect to be praised by your fellow schoolmates should you start listening to Sinatra and wearing a sport coat to class. Do it because it expresses the true you. Just dont expect applause.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several crude sexual comments.

Obscene Language: Around 30 obscenities, mostly the f- and s-words; a few minor expletives (damns & hells).

Profanity: I caught one misuse of Jesus name, it coming from the lead; the expression oh my God is heard a couple of times.

Violence: : Charlie is beaten up; kicked and punched in the face; we see a tape later of other teens being beaten up by the school bully. Blood: A black eye and bloodied mouth.

Sex: There are several sexual conversations and the lead has sex with his girlfriend; the scene is more suggestive than graphic; he then announces the deed to the entire school.

Nudity: There is one shot of teen girls going topless.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: There are several sexual conversations and crude references to the female form.

Drugs: Several teens are seen smoking; the lead sells prescription drugs to fellow students; two parental figures drink to excess.

Other: A student attempts suicide.

Running Time: 97 minutes
Intended Audience: Though rated R, has definite appeal for teens.

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