Saturday, July 5, 2008

Charlie Bartlett (Jon Poll, 2008) D+

Yet another film that started promising but quickly turned to shit mostly due to an awful screenplay. I thought the opening was great- charming, witty and exquisitely well-handed by Anton Yelchin and Hope Davis. Then, Yelchin's Charlie went off to public high school and it went downhill from there. I can't exactly pinpoint where I started to grow bored with the whole thing but eventually I just wanted the film to end. The screenplay is basically full of subplots with no main plot to guide them. And the abrupt changes in tone seem to suggest that the writer didn't know if they were going for a dark comedy or a slight teenage dramedy or what ever else. It's such a shame because the cast is pretty damn good: Yelchin, at least until the very end, guides his Charlie Bartlett well through the tedium of the script and he very nearly emerges a symbol of teenagedom today; Davis is as droll as ever as Charlie's mother, giving a fine comedic performance from a character that isn't given much to do besides be a kooky mother; Robert Downey, Jr., for most of the movie, is completely wasted since the screenwriter obviously didn't know what to do with his character (it isn't until the very end when he gets some good dialogue to work with that Downey is actually able to do something with his character).

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