Charlie Bartlett on DVD

Charlie Bartlett on DVD. The trailer for this movie presents a typical high-school romantic-comedy with a bit of quirkiness to it, just enough to make it interesting. Talk about truth in advertising. The film is exactly that. It’s filled with stereotypical characters: the controlling principal, his beautiful daughter, the bully, the loner, the indulgent mom, and the oh-so-clever title role. But audiences should be aware that these are not one-dimensional people; they do have some nuances.

Charlie, after being expelled once again from a private boarding academy, ends up as the fish-out-of-water at a local public high school. When his complete social failure is compounded by a bad reaction to a treatment of Ritalin, he sees an opportunity for popularity and profit by becoming a student psychiatrist, dispensing both advice and drugs to his classmates. His success draws the attention of both the principal, played by Robert Downey Jr., and the principal’s daughter Susan, played by Kat Dennings. Dennings, who seems to be a younger version of the sexy Rose McGowan, reprises her role from “The 40 Year Old Virgin” as the skeptical teen. It is not the romantic relationship, but the one between Charlie and Principal Gardner that is the most complex and drives the story forward. They are in conflict on campus for control of the student body and in private for Susan’s affections. However, they not only recognize these areas of contention and each others weaknesses, but reach a level of mutual respect so that they can help each other.

Some viewers will dismiss the film as another teen comedy about searching for one’s place in life, but I liked the piano-oriented score, the clever quirks and the main relationship triangle.

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