I recently had the opportunity to watch the upcoming film featured in the LA.CityZine writing competition Charlie Bartlett, and before any of you cry conflict of interest, we approached them about running the competition after enjoying the movie as much as we did. It’s smart, witty, and deals with many issues that we see in LA. My honest opinion when I walked out of it was, I liked it! I thought the first 5 minutes were a bit “set up-y” but it flowed nicely and had some funny scenes, great acting, and a message to boot. I ca not figure out why it reminded me of Harold and Maude but it did. Maybe it’s the “If you want to be me” song or maybe the large house and the limo. Who knows.
I think that first time Director, Jon Poll, did a great job in trusting his actors and giving them room to strut their stuff. Each actor played up the stereotypes normally associated with their character and found something new and interesting to add to it. You have the sedated rich mom, the neglected teenager looking for acceptance, the rebel beating up, said; neglected teenager looking for acceptance, the provocative theater girl, the over-sexed cheerleader and so on and so forth. Any person who went to public high school in the US, knows these people, you may even be one of these people.
The film manages to deliver its message about the over medicated and sedated society that we live in without losing it’s sense of fun. The film talks about the countless different prescription drugs one has at their fingertips, which are covering up problems more problems then solving. This film does a great job or showing the ups and downs of prescription medications and the doctors that prescribe them.
Normally I would talk about the plot and how everything tied in, but as of my favorite film reviews Mark Kermode often says, “if you can’t see the ending, you’re just not trying.” The plot and story are nice, but it’s all pretty obvious. The actors are what make this film so great. Everyone from the major stars to the minor roles, did an amazing job.
I have to say I’m a bit of a sucker for Robert Downey Jr., there is something about him finishing off a bottle of booz, watching his life fall through the cracks, all while obsessing over a little toy boat, that I love. This was a great film for him, especially before he turns into Iron Man, because he gets to tap into his responsible side, his drunk addict side, and my favorite, his humorous side.
Anton Yelchin, the star of the film, was amazing. His way of speaking, moving, and overall just being is very interesting to watch. At first I thought his character was explained a bit too early on, but one of the reasons why his character is so unique is because he knows and the audience knows why he does “bad” things, he just can’t stop himself. Overall Yelchin really wowed me. His high school theater audition is amazing! Very few actors his age could pull off something like that as well as he has. I think he is definitely someone we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the near future.
Hope Davis plays you’re typical sedated, over fitness-ed, externally obsessed mother, who thinks wellness is skin deep, mainly sue to her medications. Yelchin looks after her instead of the other way around and she does a great job of being completely lost (in a good way) for most of the film. She is very pleasant to watch and does a great job of finding the humor in her role.
Kat Dennings, who many people know as the daughter in 40 Year Old Virgin, does a good job playing the hip, cool, sexual, strong theater chick. She has been a bit type-casted at the 15,16 year-old rebellious daughter, and hopefully we’ll get to see her break into something new soon. She looks like she could handle it. Aside from that she’s gorgeous, a great role-model is terms of healthy body type and man does that girl have some bodacious lips on her! They’re almost distracting!
Tyler Hilton, an almost complete unknown to me, really blew me away. I only recently found out where I new his face from. If any of you have seen Walk the Line, he played Elvis Presley. I remember him standing out out even though he only had 30 seconds on screen. He plays the bad boy in Charlie Bartlett that could have been a little too cliched for me, if not from Hilton’s great sense of timing and humor. He does a great job at bringing his character to life and playing up the cliche’s in his own unique way.
Overall, I think this is a great film to see. It’s really smart, well acted, and well put together (for a change). It’s a great way to be reminded people that it’s important to accept who you and not try to “improve” yourself.
The film will be released next week on February 22nd to theaters near you!