johnlink ranks CHARLIE BARTLETT (2007)

For me, watching CHARLIE BARTLETT was an experience akin to the first time I watched RAVENOUS, DARK CITY, or GROSSE POINTE BLANK. I knew that I wasn’t seeing a popular movie, that it didn’t enjoy a lot of commercial success, but damn, did I love it! I felt like I was finding that proverbial diamond in the cliched rough.

In fact, the movie is probably closest to some of thse late 80s/early 90s John Cusack films. CHARLIE BARTLETT is a pretty decent guy stuck in the middle of a lot of crazy events, which lead him to make some morally questionable decisions.

I watched CHARLIE BARTLETT (2007) on 3.9.09. It was my first viewing of the film.



A smart indie comedy with a lot to say about today’s medicated society. Charlie Bartlett is someone who can see that he doesn’t like what Ritalin does to him, but he has no problem selling it to other kids if they want to get a bit wonky. There are several relationships in this film which resonated with me. Father-daughter; mother-son; principal-student; boyfriend-girlfriend. This movie has these relationships in various states of distress. From Charlie and Susan’s budding romance to Charlie’s non-existent relationship with his father (as well as Susan’s non-existent relationship with her mother). The shooting of this movie was nothing special, but it never gets in the way of its characters or their intentions. The beauty of the direction in this movie was in the way that Jon Poll (a career editor) allows his actors to just go, and trust their (sometimes crazy) work to go right on screen. SCORE: 7


This is the sort of movie where a lot of events occur a tick or two away from reality. But, then, how many times in our own lives do events seem a tick or two away from reality? I won’t knock it for that. Of all the episodes in the film, only the selling of the Greatest School Fights DVD rang a little false with me while watching. SCORE: 8


I wonder if others who saw this felt like they were seeing a brilliant performance by a young actor, because I sure was. Anoton Yelchin is the kid from HEARTS in ATLANTIS who you’ll see a lot of this summer in STAR TREK and the new TERMINATOR. He is brilliant as Charlie Bartlett, and I don’t throw that term around lightly. It’s hard to put yourself out there the way he does. And when an actor does, it usually feels false or forced. When he breaks out into Yankee Doodle Dandy… well, it’s one of the top acting moments I’ve seen in any movie in a long time. He’s awesome. He gets some great support from his mother (Hope Davis), Susan (Kat Dennings) and Susan’s father/principal (Robert Downey Jr. winking at his own personal alcohol issues). Even the kids cast as the supporting high-schoolers are great. I’m surprised to be giving the acting in this movie a perfect score. But I can’t think of a reason not to. SCORE: 10


I must confess that this is my kind of flick. It’s a comedy which earns its laughs, rather than simply farting on you or trying to squeeze a fat guy through a small opening. There are a huge number of set up/payoff moments. My favorite is the story about Susan’s dad splitting with her mom and drunkenly waving around a gun. The movie eventually gets to this happening, but in front of Charlie. In a lot of films, this would be over-the-top and unbelievable. But because a reliable character already talked about a similar situation, the audience doesn’t feel disjointed when it happens. Great writing choices abound throughout the script. I’m considering writing a larger essay on the relationships in this film and how they compliment and/or foil each other. Just a good, funny, solid story. SCORE: 9


I know I usually only give the bonus point for music, and I’m doing it again here. Not sure why, just haven’t seen any movies lately which blew me away with their editing or their cinematography. Anyway, I love that this movie  has MMPD (multiple musical personality disorder). There are great dissonant piano riffs followed by a pop song followed by some good, old fashioned scoring. Loved the music. BONUS: 1



7+8+10+9+1= 35

FINAL SCORE: 8.75… and inspiring to redo my top 20 movies here pretty soon…

~ by johnlink00 on March 9, 2009.

One Response to “johnlink ranks CHARLIE BARTLETT (2007)”

  1. I forget where I was when I saw this film. It was probably on a trans-atlantic flight, where I was a captive audience (I had never heard of the movie). I thought it was great….a totally unexpected good movie. I need to track down a copy, since I’m not sure I saw it end to end.

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