We critics like to make a big fuss over films that have had their release dates pushed back — usually because it’s a sign of a studio’s lack of confidence in the final product — but every once in a while, there’s a movie that endures a similar treatment for very different reasons. Last year, Charlie Bartlett was pulled from the release calendar mere weeks before its scheduled date, and understandably so. The movie’s a hard sell — essentially, it’s a black comedy set in high school — but all that waiting looks to have finally paid off thanks to the recent success of the like-minded Juno. Sure, it’s a little shady of MGM to be cashing in on Junomania now, but there’s no better time than the present to release what could easily become one of the most overlooked films of the year.
Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) may not be pregnant, but he still has a common case of teen angst (Ritalin not included). After being kicked out of every private school in the region (the latest because he was manufacturing fake IDs), Charlie’s mom (Hope Davis) has no other choice than to enlist him in the local high school. Eager to gain the attention of his new classmates, Charlie appoints himself to the role of school psychiatrist, doling out advice and prescription drugs from within the boy’s restroom. Along with new girlfriend Susan (Kat Dennings) and class bully-turned-business partner Murphey (Tyler Hilton), Charlie quickly becomes the talk of the town, but when the school’s principal (Robert Downey Jr.) finds his authority threatened by the new student, he sets out to make an example of him.