Charlie Bartlett is the story of a troubled youth who has been kicked out of almost every private school, most recently for selling fake IDs to the student body. Since Charlie (Anton Yelchin) has burned through his private school options, his mother (Hope Davis) has no recourse than to bring him home and enroll him in public school. Charlie wants to fit in, so he opens an improvised psychiatric clinic in the men’s room. Here he gives out free advice and uses his own psychiatrist connections to get drugs, which he then sells, thus becoming the most popular student in school.
The bathroom confessionals are funny; the movie was filmed in Canada, so keep your eyes peeled for no less than three Degrassi: The Next Generation actors peppered throughout the film and all three can be glimpsed in the confessionals.
Being popular has its problems as Charlie will attest to; he comes under the scrutiny of Principal Gardner (Robert Downey Jr.) who was happy when he was teaching, but finds his new position less than fulfilling. Charlie also falls in love with Susan who just happens to be the principal’s daughter. Along the way he decides to take some of his own advice, find romance, and learn to accept who he is.
I will admit, some of the story is a bit predictable, but I enjoyed this film too much to care about that. I only have one real complaint, and that is while Downey is terrific as the principal who tries to be laid back and a “go-with-the-flow” type of guy but is actually a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off, he is underused and doesn’t get enough screen time.
I love DVD extras; in fact, that’s the reason I pick up most of my DVDs. This DVD contains several extras not available in this screener copy (director Jon Poll refers to another commentary track). In fact there are supposed to be a total of three separate commentaries, but alas, this disc only has one; but it’s a good, light-hearted romp with Poll, and actors Yelchin and Dennings. The DVD says to access the other extras flip the disc over, however since I only have the single-sided screener I didn't have access to them. The only other extra on this screener is a three-minute music video for Spiral Beach's "Voodoo". I understand that there are deleted scenes, featurettes, and restroom confessionals, which Poll also refers to, but I can’t comment on them since I haven’t seen them.
Overall Charlie Bartlett is a fun movie about trying to fit in and finding out who you are with a unique approach.