Charm and sincerity perfect prescription to cure the common comedy
Charlie Bartlett is a rich kid in a blazer. He’s the target of mohawked bullies and has contempt for authority. Having just been kicked out of private school for making fake IDs, he is the new kid at a typical angst-ridden public high school. And he’s just so darn likable.
Bartlett, played by Anton Yelchin, has been compared by some to Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Bueller. The comparison is fairly accurate – both troublemakers exude an honest charm that wins them the popularity of their peers.
However, rather than playing hooky, Bartlett deals drugs from a boys bathroom stall.
Instead of selling marijuana or cocaine to his classmates, he hands out Xanax and Ritalin. Growing up with a quirky but medicated mother has given Bartlett access to many psychiatrists as well as the prescriptions they are eager to hand out.
While he does dole out medications for his classmates’ afflictions, he also hands out good advice. Confiding in Bartlett about low self-esteem, depression and family problems, the complaints of his peers resonate with viewers because they represent real problems facing high school students.
The movie also confronts the irony of America’s attitude towards drugs. The line between illegal drugs and legal ones that require a prescription blurs when a school dance on Ritalin resembles an Ecstasy-induced rave.
But like every hero, Bartlett faces opposition. His antagonist comes in the form of the school’s alcoholic principal, played by Robert Downey Jr. He is also the father of Bartlett’s love interest, the beautiful but rebellious Susan.
Several aspects of the movie were undeveloped, such as Bartlett’s relationship with his father, in prison for tax evasion. Even though most of the high school depictions seemed fairly true, several scenarios seemed forced, like a clubhouse student lounge equipped with security cameras.
Overall, the intelligence and heart of the film make it a must-see comedy. “Charlie Bartlett” was as earnestly sincere and instantly charming as its title character.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Morgan Keys at firstname.lastname@example.org.