I’d been looking forward to Charlie Bartlett for some time.  Not really sure why, I guess I liked the trailer, and seems like there’s been a spate of good high school movies recently (Juno, obviously, but I enjoyed Full of It and liked Rocket Science, off the top off my head).  And Robert Downey, Jr. is awesome, naturally.

Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) is a maladjusted rich kid.  Not rich kid snobby, more just unable to fit in, due to a combination of father issues and precociousness.  After the expected tribulations of his first few days in public school, such as getting beat up by the bully (Tyler Hilton) he begins acting as a psychiatrist of sorts, even prescribing drugs (which he obtains through his various visits to psychiatrists).  He soon becomes one of the most popular kids in school, picking up a girlfriend (Kat Dennings) and dealing with a principal (Robert Downey, Jr.), whose just trying to get some respect.

Gustin Nash’s rather pedestrian script is significantly propped up by the cast.  (Wait.  Hold on.  “Gustin”?  Awesome.)  When Anton Yelchin breaks out next year (he’s in Star Trek AND Terminator Salvation), you can at least point back here and agree he’s got the chops.  He does a fine job as the likeable, intelligent, non-whiny, slightly messed up high schooler, but the scene where he is high is quite fun.  I have to mention Tyler Hilton, because he’s in the video for Taylor Swift’s “Teardrops on my Guitar”.  Hope Davis is Yelchin’s mostly clueless mom.  She, unfortunately, sort of flits in and out of the story.  And Robert Downey, Jr. is well, Robert Downey, Jr.  He has a few booze-aided scenes that I felt were kind of hard to watch, given his history.  In any case, he’s great each and every time he’s on screen.

My main problem with Nash’s script was the last half of the movie.  More specifically, I liked the setup.  Yelchin’s character is interesting, plus, the concept of a high schooler acting as a psychiatrist is kind of cool.  But then the rest of the movie feels like an unnecessary subplot that was forced into becoming the actual story.  I think there was a lot more to be done with the evolution of the relationship between Downey, Jr. and Yelchin.  And while, yes, Nash did avoid many cliched paths, I’m not sure he chose a particularly meaningful alternative.

Here’s the part where the post starts babbling about the lovely and talented Kat Dennings.  Out of consideration to everyone I put it after the jump.

But most of all, I thank Charlie Bartlett for introducing me to Kat Dennings.  I missed Raise Your Voice (See!  I haven’t seen every Hilary Duff movie).  And, to be honest, couldn’t remember her from The 40 Year Old Virgin.  But yowza.  She’s some sort of cross between Hilary Duff and Scarlett Johansson, and I did choose that comp carefully.  Wikipedia says she’s of the Chosen People persuasion.  I don’t quite understand how we produce so many attractive women and yet so many schlubby looking dudes.  In any case, when I saw she was from Philly, I groaned, naturally, but then realized that yeah, she definitely looks it.

In any case, and I say this as objectively as I can, she has legitimate screen presence.  Sure, I was horribly distracted whenever she came onscreen, but she isn’t getting these pretty decent roles solely because of her looks.  As an aside, Adam pointed me to her site.  I have Ziggy Stardust on vinyl and loved Lolita and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so we clearly can be friends.  Also, Phantom Tollbooth?  Amazing!  Though I’m not quite sure I agree with loving that Johnny Flynn album. And she has a YouTube channel.

All of which is to say: I mentioned a month ago I was excited for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.  I’m REALLY excited for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

Well, and as a red-blooded male, yes, I’m excited for The House Bunny.  But come on.  Kat Dennings, Anna Faris, AND Emma Stone?  Oh, and it is written by the team (Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz) behind Ella Enchanted, Legally Blonde, and…wait for it…just a little longer….10 Things I Hate About You!

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