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DVD Review

DVD cover

Charlie Bartlett


Starring: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis and Kat Dennings
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 23 February 2009

Charles is a troubled young man. He is undoubtedly intelligent but his anti-authoritarian stance, and his desire for the approval of his peers, see him being expelled from one prestigious school after another. Now attending community college Charlie finds a whole new world to contend with, but through it all Charlie finds his calling as a counsellor...

Charlie Bartlett (2007 - 1 hr, 32 min, 57 sec) is a new, coming of age, teen comedy from first time director Jon Poll and script writer Gustin Nash. The story is not unlike Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but with a layer of modern angst thrown in for good measure. If you liked Ferris then you’ll enjoy this film.

When we first meet Charlie (Anton Yelchin) he is the process of being thrown out of another quality school, this time for forging driver’s licences for fellow students. He is collected by his mother, Marilyn (Hope Davis), who sends him to the local school. As soon as Charlie turns up at school in his blazer you kind of know where this film is going. So we have the local bully for Charlie to subdue, the girl (Kat Dennings) to win and the principle (Robert Downey Jr.) to overcome - succeeding in all of this whilst learning some heartfelt lessons about life.

Charlie soon finds that he is listening to his fellow students problems and, with access to a number of doctors, Charlie starts to prescribe for them. He charms those around him and soon he finds queues outside the toilets, where Charlie dispenses his own form of psychiatric care.

It would be easy to be negative about this film on a ‘seen it before’ basis, but films are like jokes - there are only so many variations. What the film does have is an excellent performance by its lead Anton Yelchin, who demonstrates an acting range which will guarantee us seeing him again. The film also has heart - okay, sometimes it’s a little on the mawkish side, but sometimes even mawkish has its place. Will the film tell you anything you didn’t know before? No. Will it entertain? Yes.

Although Robert Downey has little more than an extended cameo in the film, it’s good to see him back. He’s an actor that it would be too easy to say that he walks through his roles, but that’s only because his natural talent makes his performances seem effortless.

The disc is fairly served by its options. So, we have a full length commentary by Jon Poll, Anton Yelchin and Kat Dennings; Restroom Confessions (3 min, 31 sec - which has the cast doing amusing skits as if they are talking to and about Charlie); and a music video (3 min, 01 sec) from Spiral Beach.

It’s never going to be a film which changes your life or challenges your thinking, but from a novice director and screen writer it’s a good first effort which will amuse you - which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of comedy films.


Charles Packer

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