Although cheerful, friendly, intelligent, well-dressed, authentic and wealthy, Charlie Bartlett has problems. With his father gone and his mother loopy and clueless, he’s been expelled from every private school for his victimless crimes. Now he’s in a public school getting punched out daily by the school thug. He ever longs to be popular – the go-to guy – and the true crux of his troubles is that he invariably finds the means to this end, whatever that might be. At Western Summit High, he makes peace with his tormentor by going into business with him – listening to kids’ problems and selling them prescription drugs. Charlie’s a hit, but attraction to Susan (daughter of the school’s laissez-faire principal), new security cameras on campus, a student’s overdose, and Charlie’s open world view all converge to get him in serious trouble. Can this self-made physician possibly heal himself and just be a kid?
User Reviews: I saw this in a members’ preview at the wonderful Bryn Mawr Film Institute.
I truly enjoyed this movie. It was smart, hilarious, well-acted (especially Downey, Yelchin, and Davis), and well-scripted. I definitely recommend it, but not with the type of superlatives that other commenters have used here.
If my regard for this movie fades over the coming days, it will be in part because it’s so easy to write a "recipe" for the film: it’s 3 parts Pump Up the Volume, 1 part Rushmore, a generous dollop of closure, and enough cuteness and sweetness to smooth all the potential edginess out of the subject matter. Unfortunately, it’s the sweetness that renders this movie inferior to both of those earlier movies (which are excellent). Once I was struck by the Pump Up the Volume comparison, I couldn’t shake it, and I kept thinking that, although it has not aged wonderfully, Pump Up the Volume was the more honest and hard-hitting movie, and Rushmore was simply better.