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Charlie Bartlett

4.3 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The kids at Western Summit High have "issues," and newcomer Charlie Bartlett is coming to their rescue. With a briefcase full of prescription pills and a head full of pop psychology, this rebel with a cause brings hilarious help to the student body and unending grief to their neurotic principal, Mr. Gardner (Robert Downey, Jr.). Suddenly, Charlie is the hottest man on campus and he's even caught the eye of Gardner's sultry daughter. An outrageous send-up of today's Prozac generation, Charlie Bartlett has your prescription for laugh-out-loud insanity!


The ghost of Ferris Bueller haunts Charlie Bartlett. In John Hughes' classic comedy, a wily principal chases a clever student all over Chicago. In editor-turned-director Jon Poll's darker-hued enterprise, the hero of the title (Huff's preternaturally poised Anton Yelchin) gets kicked out of private school for selling fake IDs, so his heavily-medicated mother (a reliably excellent Hope Davis) transfers her son to a public institution. Looking like a junior stockbroker in navy blazer and attaché case, he turns into a bully piñata, until he joins forces with surly dealer Murphey (Walk the Line’s Tyler Hilton) to sell prescription medication and split the profits (Charlie secures the meds from an assortment of pill-pushing psychiatrists). By listening to their problems and offering well-researched advice, the unlicensed doc becomes the most popular kid on campus. He even captures the interest of self-possessed drama queen Susan (The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s Kat Dennings), daughter of booze-soaked Principal Gardner (Robert Downey Jr. in top form). Gardner doesn't trust Charlie, but lacks the evidence to confirm his suspicions--so he sets out to secure some. Once he installs surveillance cameras, the game is on. By the end, the two competitors will have both lost... and won. Aside from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Charlie Bartlett recalls Wes Anderson's Rushmore, except Poll's Gustin Nash-penned satire trades counter-cultural cool for trenchant commentary about quick-fix solutions to deep-seated dilemmas. That means fewer laughs than its forerunners, but Charlie Bartlett presents a more penetrating analysis of today’s generation gap. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Beyond Charlie Bartlett

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis, Kat Dennings, Tyler Hilton
  • Directors: Jon Poll
  • Writers: Gustin Nash
  • Producers: Barron Kidd, Bruce Toll, David Permut, Gustin Nash, Jay Roach
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2008
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00175VSBC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,598 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Charlie Bartlett" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Charlie Bartlett" is a run-of-the-mill teen comedy drama with a little twist. The twist being that even though it possesses all the cliches and tropes of its rather limited genre, it somehow manages to go just a little bit deeper than most. Which makes all the difference in the world.

First of all, the main characters are superbly played. Anton Yelchin is immensely adorable, and has quite the emotional range (not to mention his facial expressions range...). I hope he gets to play more roles like this one, because the boy sure has a lot of talent - both for comedy and drama. Robert Downey Jr. is a class unto himself and needs no superlatives. Suffice to say he does what he does best - portraying a character with problems, a little bit unsure of himself, a little bit wrong about stuff and possessing a lot of inner strength. The other members of the cast are forgettable, but never disappoint.

The atmosphere of the movie is fantastic. "Charlie Bartlett" is a very dynamic, very "rhythmic" piece. In this (and other things, mainly in the music and plot departments) it resembles the show "Weeds", even though its themes are more in line with UK's drama "Skins".

What really touches you though, are the characters. They are all just a little bit more real than what we're used to in movies like this one, but as I said in the beginning - that's quite enough. Charlie is both really strong and quite vulnerable, and Yelchin does a superb job in portraying this. He has admirable qualities, and he has obvious flaws - he can switch between likable and dislikable in the matter of seconds. Downey Jr.'s Principle Gardner is an alcoholic who has self-esteem issues and trouble connecting with his otherwise loving daughter Susan. The way he sees Charlie as almost a villain - a rival!
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Charlie Bartlett is a genius, an outcast, a legend, and an accidental hero. He's an unabashed nerd who somehow manages to ooze cool and charisma. He's smart, clean-shaven, loves his parents, acts on an earnest desire to help those around him, and is as a result seen as a rebel and a subversive. He doesn't oppose authority; it opposes him. He becomes a local saint by selling mood-altering drugs to his fellow high-school students, and is vilified only for trying to stake out his own identity and help his fellow teenagers do the same. He's an innocent rebel in search of a cause. He's our Ferris Bueller.

As a coming of age story, Charlie Bartlett deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as The Graduate or The Catcher In The Rye. It's hilarious, touching, and smart, full of deliciously subverted clichés and gorgeously wrought characters. It tells that same age-old story (a young man struggles to find his identity, and thus becomes an emblem for his entire generation) with unparalleled skill, unfeigned sympathy, and bottomless humor. The movie's titular character really is a fantastic creation: He's a bundle of contradictions and ironies, a balance of endearing naiveté and knowing, sardonic sarcasm, all of which conceals a deep sensitivity and sense of longing.

Oh, and did I mention that this is a first-rate comedy? As touching and insightful as it is, Charlie Bartlett is a also a gut-bustingly funny, endlessly entertaining movie, full of iconic scenes, memorable dialogue, sharp satire, and sheer hysterics. The jokes come fast and easy, the characters are full of quirks, the story is wonderfully paced and relentlessly engrossing, and the climax is as gripping and heartrending as you could possibly ask. Even the film's occasional missteps- a few of the ideas seem underdeveloped or awkwardly handled- aren't particularly troublesome. In fact, they add to the loose, freewheeling atmosphere that pervades the whole thing. See it!
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Format: DVD
This movie's reviews, more than any I've seen in quite a while, are all over the place, which is quite unusual for some of these teen angst movies because they are usually loved my one group, or age, and panned by another.

As someone in their late 50's, who was an Air Force "brat" that seemed to move every two years or so, and whose father "retired" from the service when I was in my teens, I found this to be a credible movie. In my instance, we moved to rural Alabama after having lived in Germany, South Carolina, Taiwan, and Michigan. In addition to the "foreign" accent that I had that was slightly northern, I, also, was one of those short, smart aleck PIA's.

In Charlie's case, after being kicked-out of every private school there is, he is faced with the inevitable situation of having to attend public school, where he has confrontations with the school bully, played exceptionally well by Tyler Hilton, tries to get serious with an attractive girl student, who he doesn't realize is the principal's daughter, and butts heads with the principal, played in an understated way by Robert Downey Jr. Toss-in a mother who is half-flaky, a situation with his father we never quite understand (Hey what's a little tax evasion among the rich) and you have Charlie's situation.

Along the way, Charlie, played by Anton Yelchin, finds, through "chemistry," a way to interrelate to the other students by becoming a pseudo drug-dealer/counselor, with the counselor concept becoming a way that he fulfills himself.

In Charlie's case, he is successful, and to this end, he constantly strives to help others as a means of finding something worthwhile about himself.
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