Charlie Bartlett

Youth comedies are a dime a dozen. But this baby, directed by first-timer Jon Poll from a deft script by Gustin Nash, is packed with smarts and sass. Anton Yelchin delivers a star making turn as Charlie, a rich lad expelled from multiple private academies and forced to rub his tailored shoulders with the commoners in public school. Much to the horror of his mother (a wonderfully droll Hope Davis) and his alcoholic principal (a hilarious and haunting Robert Downey Jr.), Charlie earns popularity with fellow students by acting as a therapist and selling them drugs (oh, that Ritalin) he hustles from his own shrink. You won't miss the film's comic punch, but it's the hurt underneath that makes this loser's odyssey a winner.

From The Archives Issue 1032: August 9, 2007
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