Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

“Charlie Bartlett”: quirky, likeable protagonist makes thoughtful film

Yes, “Charlie Bartlett” is a teen movie. However, to end descriptions of it there would be to seriously overlook  the film’s  positive aspects and originality, as well as to limit the experience of the viewer during this entertaining and thoughtful film.

The story centers around 17-year-old Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchon), a quirky, awkward yet likable guy striving for popularity at his new public school. Unable to stay at private schools due to his various business ventures, one of which is selling fake IDs,Charlie Bartlett attends his new school, blazer and attaché case in hand.   Genuinely friendly with everyone he meets, he quickly encounters the school’s bullies and thus a toilet.

Determined to change his situation he begins to serve as the school psychiatrist, and makes the bully, Murphy Bivens  (Tyler Hilton), his business partner.   The two set up shop in the boy’s bathroom and between stall conferences and sell the medication prescribed to Charlie by various doctors. In effect, they begin to “heal” the students.   Though this sounds somewhat twisted, Bartlett is entirely likable throughout the movie in that he doesn’t create the business for money. Instead, he  does it because he wants nothing more than to help people. Bartlett is quick-witted, hilarious and let’s face it–adorable.

Cue love interest: Susan Gardner (Kat Dennings) is the  daughter of high school principal Nathan Gardner (Robert Downey Jr.). Susan and Charlie gravitate toward one another and begin the healing process as they both have problems with their fathers. We learn that Principal Gardner has turned to the bottle since his wife cheated on him and left,  using alcohol to cope with the stress of his job. Charlie’s dad is in prison for tax evasion, and his mom has not been the same since making it Charlie’s duty to keep her from relapsing into another period of depression.

The problems arise from the respective families, particularly her father who begins to spiral out of control, and the premise of selling prescription drugs creates issues as well. While the various high school and drug-addict stereotypes are there, the characters are far more three-dimensional than one may expect. The strength of the film lies in its ability to create endearing characters through their entirely believable flaws. They all mean well–but as they are inherently human, life is messy. The actors succeed in portraying both sides of each character, making it impossible to truly dislike anyone as a whole, instead sympathizing with their struggles.

At times the events feel exaggerated and dramatic, particularly by the end,  but the drama is to be expected. The viewer never needs to feel cheated or insulted by the slightly unrealistic resolutions to otherwise challenging situations. All-in-all, this film  offers a fun, cerebral break, especially as finals are fast approaching. Also you can take time to remind yourself how thankful you are to be in college after you finish watching.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *