Friday, February 22, 2008

DNfromMN - Movie Review - Charlie Bartlett


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 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.


~crazy peanut~ said...

DM thanks for all the fantastic reviews. Mucho appreciated. :)

That Guy said...

I love your reviews!
And I still use the "boys have a penis, girls have a vagina" line with regularity. That line is pure gold.

mooshki said...

My best movie-going experience ever was seeing "James and the Giant Peach" opening weekend. The theater was completely packed with kids and parents. Halfway through the movie, a little boy randomly shouted out "girls have vaginas!" The entire audience burst out laughing. Those poor parents - with a reaction like that, I'm sure it became his favorite thing to say for a long time!

Anonymous said...

peanut - that's why I continue to do them. Ent appreciates not having to hunt down stuff all day.

And I've found it helps me sort of congeal my thoughts on a movie if I write up something about it.

lol mooshki

califblondy said...

That'd be me with the ho-hum comment about Definitely, Maybe.

I guess my expectations were too high.

Tracee said...

Hmm, I though this was a remake of Ferris Bueller [shrug]

blooter said...

i like the idea of CDAN having regular reviews, but could we please have someone who doesn't seem so amateurish reviewing a film? it's like going on imdb and reading some of the user-submitted reviews on there, there's no insight or skill involved in them at all.

Anonymous said...

blooter - ow. A fair critique, but in my opinion, blog format doesn't really lend itself to serious analysis of a movie.

I do this on a volunteer basis, and seek out the screenings on my own. Check your local newspaper (the alt weeklies in particular) and radio station websites if you're in a major metropolitan area.

If anyone wants to submit reviews I'm sure Ent would post them. Back when I did the first one, he said he wouldn't mind if people submitted stuff to post. said...

Robert Downey Jr is so above this kind of thing, talent-wise. I hope he can get back onto the A list.

link88 said...

I disagree, Blooter. I think he does a great job with his reviews. He obviously knows his stuff about films and it's nice to get a review written in such a way that it shows his knowledge while at the same time seeming like an inside scoop from a friend.

Don't listen to that, dnfrommn. Your reviews are not amateurish and people appreciate you sharing them with us.

blooter said...

hey, it shows real maturity and class to respond to me in the fashion you did dnfrommn!

i still stand by my opinion though. but i understand now, you're just another reader like us, extending yourself to the community and for that i have nothing but admiration.

Amber said...

I think this movie is just trying to hard to have that 80's feel without owning up to it.


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