Sunday, February 24, 2008

Movie review: Charlie Bartlett

Spoiler alert!

Most of us remember high school as that horrible time in our lives when we were unsure of ourselves and our place in the world. We all wanted to be liked by our peers, mostly because we weren't sure if we liked ourselves. Enter Charlie Bartlett. The movie opens with Charlie being expelled from the latest in a string of private schools. Typically, his expulsions have been related to schemes he undertook to increase his popularity. When his mother points out to Charlie that there are more important aspects to high school than being popular, Charlie asks for examples. After a moment's hesitation, she admits that she cannot think of any. Charlie's mother then suggests that he attend the public school.

Charlie is a very bright young man from a wealthy family. His mother is a bit maladjusted herself, and so she keeps a psychiatrist on retainer to minister to her and Charlie's needs. After being beaten up for his preppie ways, Charlie leverages his psychiatric experience into a new scheme. He will offer advice and psychoactive prescription drugs to his fellow students, in partnership with his erstwhile abuser (cum drug dealer). The scheme is hugely successful. Charlie is a very good listener and offers pretty good advice.

After one of his clients tries to kill himself with his 'prescription', Charlie needs to stop dispensing drugs. When he informs the students that he won't be prescribing drugs any more, he says he will still offer free counseling. His business partner is angry with him, and guesses that their run is over. Amazingly, the next day, Charlie has as many clients as he did when he was prescribing and selling drugs.

By the end of the movie, Charlie admits to everyone that he is no more together than they are. However, it does seem that he has a knack for hearing what people are really saying and offering sound advice. He finds that he enjoys the role so well, that he eventually seeks a summer internship at a psychiatric hospital. Though the interviewer wonders about his checkered past, he is willing to interview a very enthusiastic Charlie, but comments that they need to get to it because the interviewer has a tough day ahead. Charlie smiles and asks if he would like to talk about that.

It would have been great if Charlie Bartlett had gone to my high school!

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