Charlie Bartlett

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This article is about the 2007 film. For details of the fictional soap character named Charlie Bartlett, see Sons and Daughters (Australian TV series).
Charlie Bartlett
Charlie bartlett ver4.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jon Poll
Produced by Sidney Kimmel
Barron Kidd
Jay Roach
David Permut
Written by Gustin Nash
Starring Anton Yelchin
Kat Dennings
Robert Downey Jr.
Tyler Hilton
Hope Davis
Music by Christophe Beck
Cinematography Paul Sarossy
Edited by Alen Baumgarten
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
February 22, 2008
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million[1]
Box office $5.2 million[1]

Charlie Bartlett is a 2007 American comedy-drama film directed by Jon Poll. The screenplay by Gustin Nash focuses on a teenager who begins to dispense therapeutic advice and prescription drugs to the student body at his new high school in order to become popular.

The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on May 1, 2007, and was shown at the Cannes Film Market, the Maui Film Festival, and the Cambridge Film Festival before going into theatrical release in the United States and Canada on August 3, 2007. The movie had received mixed reviews from critics and was a technical box-office failure, earning back only $5.2 million of its $12 million budget.


The son of a depressed but doting mother (Hope Davis) and a father who is serving time for tax evasion, wealthy teenager Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin), - after being expelled from several private academies for various infractions - enrolls in a public school run by embittered alcoholic Principal Nathan Gardner (Robert Downey, Jr.), who was formerly a history teacher. Unable to fit in with most of his fellow students, Charlie forms an alliance with school bully Murphy Bivens (Tyler Hilton) and offers him half the proceeds from the sale of a variety of prescription drugs Charlie obtains by feigning physical and emotional symptoms during sessions with different psychiatrists.

Before long, his natural charm and likability positions him as the school's resident therapist, who offers advice within the confines of the boys bathroom. Charlie's social life noticeably improves as he gains the confidence and admiration of the student body and begins to date the principal's rebellious daughter, Susan (Kat Dennings).

Complications arise when seriously depressed Kip Crombwell (Mark Rendall) attempts suicide by swallowing a handful of anti-depressants provided by Charlie. Charlie befriends Kip after having an in-depth conversation with Principal Gardner. Charlie discovers Kip is writing a play about adolescent issues and pitches it to Gardner who is, at first, unsure but agrees when Kip says that it would make him less inclined to attempt suicide again. The students then have trouble with the student lounge; security cameras get installed, and they start a riot.

One day, Charlie comes by Susan's house to pick her up for a date and he gives her a pharmacy bag. Mr. Gardner comes out, thinking the bag is full of "inappropriate items", and pushes Charlie, who then punches Gardner as a reflex. He tries to apologize, but the principal is not forgiving. Susan and Charlie drive off, and the bag turns out to contain nicotine gum, to help Susan quit smoking cigarettes.

That night, the students are all in the student lounge when the cops arrive. They arrest Charlie for assault, Principal Gardner is fired, and the kids trash the lounge building. Charlie is released, and before the play, stops by Mr. Gardner's house to invite him. Charlie finds Mr. Gardner heavily intoxicated and waving a revolver. They get into a heated argument which culminates in Charlie falling into the pool after attempting to tackle Mr. Gardner, thinking he is about to commit suicide. Mr. Gardner, appearing sober, comes to his senses and dives into the pool to save Charlie and states that he was not attempting to commit suicide because he has too many responsibilities to do such a thing. They talk over their problems about Charlie's father and Susan, and then go to the play. Mr. Gardner takes up his old job as a history teacher again (and is now much happier), and Charlie finally gains the confidence to visit his father in prison (something he had felt uncomfortable about earlier in the film). The film ends with Charlie applying for a summer internship at a psychiatric institute.


The film features four of the then Degrassi cast members as Charlie's fellow students: Jake Epstein (Craig Manning), Lauren Collins (Paige Michalchuk), Drake (Jimmy Brooks), and Ishan Davé (Linus).


The film was shot on location in Toronto as well as at Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, Ontario and Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby, Ontario. It was also filmed at Western Technical-Commercial School, where parts of Billy Madison, Ice Princess, Alley Kids Strike, "Fever Pitch" and Being Erica were shot.


The soundtrack to Charlie Bartlett was released on January 22, 2008.

No. Title Artist Length
1. "Charlie's Monologue" Monologue 1:22
2. "Charlie's Theme" Christophe Beck 0:51
3. "Tennis" Christophe Beck 1:01
4. "Unnecessary Trouble" Hard-Fi 1:01
5. "Visiting Hours" Christophe Beck 1:17
6. "Selling Dvds" Christophe Beck 0:55
7. "Charlie & Shrinks" Dialogue 0:50
8. "Pusherman" Curtis Mayfield 5:02
9. "Jazz It Up" Christophe Beck 1:58
10. "Prescription Flush" Christophe Beck 0:58
11. "Cameras Going Up" Christophe Beck 0:38
12. "First Kiss" Christophe Beck 1:16
13. "Oh Yeah" The Subways 2:57
14. "Kip Overdoses" Christophe Beck 2:14
15. "Voodoo" Spiral Beach 3:26
16. "Passing Notes" Christophe Beck 1:07
17. "This Is a School, Not a Prison" Christophe Beck 1:19
18. "New Clouds, Not Clouds" Spiral Beach 3:41
19. "Gardner Hits Bottom" Christophe Beck 1:19
20. "Day Ok" Spiral Beach 2:18
21. "Seat on This Train" Tom Freund 4:22
22. "You're Not Alone" Christophe Beck 3:26
23. "Dr. Bartlett" Christophe Beck 1:44
24. "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" Cat Stevens (Performed by Kat Dennings) 2:09
Total length: 47:11[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Charlie Bartlett received a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and with a consensus: "With engaging performances marked by an inconsistent tone, Charlie Bartlett is a mixed bag of clever teen angst comedy and muddled storytelling". Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote "If the attention span of Charlie Bartlett didn’t wander here and there, the movie might have been a high school satire worthy of comparison with Alexander Payne’s Election. But as it dashes around and eventually turns soft, it loses its train of thought ... [and] never coalesces into the character-driven, serious comedy with heart that you want it be."[3]

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle commented "The script is adequate, although screenwriter Nash has created one distasteful character after another, and there's barely a ripple of relieving humor in the entire film ... The material might have worked better if the filmmakers had adopted a satirical tone, or even if they'd gone the whole American Pie route. Instead, the film grinds on with only a few bright moments. The big problem, though, isn't the script but rather the direction and, specifically, the plodding pace of the film. That's surprising, given that first-time director Jon Poll has a background in film editing. It may have something to do with knowing pretty much what will happen from one moment to the next, but you keep wanting Poll and his cast to get on with things, or at least, energize the film some way or another. The tone is often just turgid ... Yet, for all its problems, the film is often sincere, often earnest ... You'll find yourself rooting for the filmmakers in spite of yourself, and, more to the point, in spite of the mistakes they've made."[4]

Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader called the film "a rebellious teen comedy that isn't as good or as radical as Pump Up the Volume, but still feels like a shot in the arm and is full of irreverent energy." He added, "Despite an ineffectual subplot about the hero's absent father, there are some good satirical riffs here on adult hypocrisies (with Robert Downey Jr. especially good as the beleaguered, alcoholic school principal), a few echoes of the underrated Mumford, and lots of high spirits."[5]

Darrell Hartmann of the New York Sun said, "John Poll's rebellious-teen comedy falls well below the high bar set by recent genre hits Juno and Superbad. An anything-goes kookiness pervades the first half, but the film then takes a trite turn that only serves to highlight its unlikely premise."[6]

David Balzer of Toronto Life, rating it three out of five stars, called it "a cool trip down teen dramedy lane, but one senses the film could be a lot smarter. Bartlett’s drug selling, it turns out, is not the main subject of the movie; 'messed-up people' are, and this causes Charlie Bartlett to lean on psychobabble about disaffection that it initially tries so hard to mock. The film’s use of Cat Stevens's anthem from Harold and Maude, 'If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out,' encapsulates its problems; instead of acting as a wry expression of Bartlett's dark philosophy, the song becomes the kind of pat message of self-empowerment that drives teens to Prozac in the first place."[7]

Home media[edit]

MGM Home Entertainment released the film on Region 1 DVD on June 24, 2008. Viewers have the option of watching it in fullscreen (with optional commentary by Jon Poll and Gustin Nash) or anamorphic widescreen (with optional commentary by Poll, Anton Yelchin, and Kat Dennings) format. It has audio tracks and subtitles in English and Spanish. Bonus features include Restroom Confessionals and a music video by Spiral Beach.


  1. ^ a b "". 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  2. ^ Charlie Bartlett Soundtrack TheOST. Retrieved February 24, 2014
  3. ^ New York Times review
  4. ^ "''San Francisco Chronicle'' review". 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  5. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "''Chicago Reader'' review". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  6. ^ "''New York Sun'' review". 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  7. ^ Originally published February 2008 (2012-03-26). "''Toronto Life'' review". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 

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