Charlie Bartlett Review

CharlieThanks for checking out our Charlie Bartlett review.

The General Idea

Plot outline from IMDB: Wealthy teenager Charlie Bartlett is failing miserably at fitting in at a new public high school run by the world-weary Principal Gardner. As he begins to better understand the social hierarchy, Charlie’s honest charm and likability positions him as the resident “psychiatrist” dishing out advice, and the occasional prescription with his partner and fellow student, Murphy Bivens, to other students in need. Along the way, he decides to take some of his own advice, find romance, and learn to accept who he is, thus wielding a witty dark comedy about the angst-filled years before college.

The Good

The acting in this film was great. Robert Downey Jr. ruled and the young actors that he had to play off of certainly held their own. This film was a great opportunity for a number of fledgeling thespians to showcase their wares and when you have the Jr. Downey in the scene with you, it is quite a bonus.

The film sets itself up pretty quickly into what looks to be a hilarious modern take on the high school drug movie. Instead of weed, hash, mushrooms and acid, we have kids spilling their guts to Charlie Bartlett and he hooks them up with pharmaceuticals. When Charlie (Anton Yelchin) and his hooligan dealer Murphy (Tyler Hilton) sell their first batch of ritilain at a school dance it leads to a hilarious shot of 2 topless girls running down the hall as they are being chased by a mentally challenged giant wearing a cape!

One scene in particular stood out to be awesome. Charlie is assaulted on his first day of school by Murphy, and then after he returns from a few days off…. is assaulted again. In retaliation Charlie hires the schools largest student (who happens to be mentally challenged) and gets his limo driver to cut Murphy off on his way home from school. The giant then throws Murph into the car, and manhandles him till he’s subdued. Charlie then extends the offer to become business partners in drug dealing. It was a classic high school movie moment and was done very well.

The Bad

The movie seems to shift gears from a drug comedy to an after school special about how teens can properly deal with their emotional problems. The majority of the movie focuses on the counseling of Charlie Bartlett and him struggling with his own demons. I don’t mind if the film wanted to have this message but the set up was for a different type of movie, and the punch-line was without a proper setup.

It was needless for this film to have a restricted rating. If the film was going to be a drug comedy, it would have made total sense; but because the lions share of the film is all about sentimental life lessons, I would have preferred to see it PG-13. At this rating the target audience would be able to benefit from the film’s message. As much as I disliked the change in direction, if the film was focused one way or the other - we could have had a great film. Because it tried to be two genres, it didn’t do justice to either.


The acting in this film was solid, but the film didn’t know what it wanted to be. An opportunity was wasted and out of 10 I will give Charlie Bartlett a 5 just to get him out of high school.


  • 1. Kristina replies at 23rd February 2008, 5:39 pm :

    AGREED. I found the movie to be uneven as hell, and Anton Yelchin was AWFUL as the lead, but Downey was great(as usual).

  • 2. flapjaxx replies at 24th February 2008, 6:00 pm :

    “a witty dark comedy about the angst-filled years before college”

    The world needs another film like this just slightly more than it needs another war or natural disaster.

  • 3. Tom replies at 4th March 2008, 11:06 am :

    You can watch it online here:

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