Release Date: February 22, 2008
So what’s the story: Smart rich kid with parents Hope Davis, as over-medicated mom, and an absent father, gets into trouble and ends up in public school. Kid becomes popular as the bathroom psychiatrist, and dates the principal’s daughter. Principal (Robert Downey, Jr.) hates his job because he cares too much. Let’s call it Juno goes to Rushmore.
Maybe bringing up Juno and Rushmore isn’t a good idea, because this movie doesn’t have the magic of either one. And I think it comes down to the lead actor, Anton Yelchin – who’s good, just smug. I had to look him up and see what else he’s done, since he didn’t look familiar, and it’s not fair to pick on new actors. He was the kidnapped kid in Alpha Dog, and he was great in that. I just found him unrelatable here. Maybe because I didn’t grow up wealthy and feeling like public school was a punishment or last resort like Charlie feels. I had similar issues with Rushmore, and that’s probably why I brought it up.
The highlights of the film for me were the adults. I love Hope Davis. I’ve loved Hope Davis since the first time I saw Next Stop Wonderland (not the best romantic comedy from the 90s, but definitely worth a rental). I am a fan of anyone who gives Hope Davis a well-deserved job. She’s the mom who appreciates her son’s reminders of when to take her meds, plays tennis with the 80-year old chauffer, and is desperate for her son to make friends. Bit of trivia: She played Anton Yelchin’s mother in Hearts in Atlantis with Anthony Hopkins.
Robert Downey, Jr is the alcoholic reluctant principal who isn’t your pal; whose daughter cares for him but hates his job almost as much as he does. There’s some great scenes between him and Charlie.
But it all just adds up to 2 hours of amusement. Mild amusement. I chuckled a couple of times, and everyone else in the theater chuckled maybe a handful of times. No big belly laughs, nothing terribly witty or memorable on the comedy front. The movie was supposed to come out last summer (I remember seeing previews for it back then), and got bumped to February 2008. I think they may suffer from “It’s not as good as Juno” reviews, and I’m going to echo that statement.
What’s it worth: $5. Worth a rental, second run theater and popcorn, or catch it on cable. I didn’t dislike it, I just found it unremarkable.
This Weekend’s Releases
Charlie Bartlett–as above
Vantage Point – wait til you don’t have to pay full price
Witless Protection – Larry the Cable Guy isn’t my style. (another fun trivia note: the writer/director of this movie, wrote a television movie called Vanishing Point)
The Counterfeiters – Austrian Oscar Nominee, gurus of gold over at moviecitynews.com tip it to win the Oscar. I saw it on Sunday, it’s based on the true story of the Germans using master counterfeiters in the concentration camps to try and crack the British pound and the dollar. It’s heartbreaking, but not as good as The Lives of Others (which won foreign language Oscar year).
The Duchess of Langeais – Apparently a Canadian film based on a Balzac novel. Period piece. I haven’t heard of it before.
The Signal – see review posted yesterday.
I know someone in the comments yesterday said they though Definitely, Maybe (Ryan Reynolds) was kind of ho-hum. Personally, I enjoyed it. I have really low expectations for romantic comedies, and tend to give them a pass because they’re not really trying for anything. I enjoyed it for the ride it is. And I love Abigail Breslin, but she got stuck being the interrupting precocious child. And her talking about sex is weird, as it’s not as funny as “boys have a penis, girls have a vagina” from Kindergarten Cop.