"Never attack a drunk guy with a gun." (The Charlie Bartlett Review)

I went to see Charlie Bartlett only for the sake of seeing Robert Downey Jr. I was pleasantly surprised by the rest of the cast, as well as the way the story unfolded.

Charlie Bartlett is about a wealthy, smart and mature boy of the same name (played by Anton Yelchin) who has been kicked out of every private school he's attended -- the latest offense making fake (but very authentic-looking) driver's licenses. His mother (Hope Davis -- who owns), a careless woman who sings showtunes while taking klonopin with wine, sees him as an adult instead of the teenager he is. It is decided that Charlie will attend public school, and after a very rough start, he is accepted by his peers when he sets up a psychiatrist's office in the boy's bathroom, complete with prescriptions for their ailments. However Principal Nathan Gardener (Robert Downey Jr, never a disappointment in any movie he's ever been in) finds himself at odds with Charlie, especially when the boy starts dating his daughter (Kat Dennings).

This movie, no matter what some critics have to say, was thoroughly enjoyable. It wasn't another movie about an arrogant teenager, or a film a la Ferris Bueller, but a real look at the problems high school kids have, ranging from promiscuity to homosexuality to suicide. And Charlie Bartlett bears the burden of his desired popularity with great aplomb, even when in the face of expulsion and other not-fun things.

Anton Yelchin really shone in this movie, to the point where I felt like a pedophile for being so impressed. Plus, he's a real cutie. I really enjoyed his performance as the charismatic Charlie, and never for a second did it fall flat, or was I not fully on board with it. He was that cute everyman that we all went to school with, who never belonged to one group and was friends with the entire school because he did some amazing thing that keeps everyone in awe. Yelchin kept me raptured and even made me wish that someone like Charlie had gone to my own high school; we would have been a lot happier if he had.

Robert Downey Jr. stole every scene he was in. He was funny, he was tragic, he was a total dad. Downey Jr. is one of my favorite actors. There's just something about him that you can totally relate to, no matter the role, whether he's a thief stealing shit (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) or a reluctant superhero (the upcoming Iron Man). As the alcoholic Principal Gardener, you felt his pain, how his life was destroyed when he was given the position of principal and left his position as a history teacher. He doesn't understand his daughter, and doesn't see that his drinking and "hobby" (driving a remote-controlled boat around his pool) is hurting her. The climax scene between him and Charlie is just... I sat there in shock and awe, thanking Elsie Downey for bringing him into the world. There isn't a more talented and versatile actor out there (except for maybe Nathan Fillion and Sean Biggerstaff, but I'm biased).

The rest of the cast, the student body, were great, especially Tyler Hilton as Murphy Bivens, the bully-turned-business partner. I really enjoyed his character and couldn't see him played by anyone else. I hope to see more of Hilton (no relation to THE Hiltons, thank god) in upcoming films. He's on the CW's One Tree Hill as Chris Keller.

The movie flowed well and moved quickly. I was surprised when it ended. The ending, come to think of it, was probably the weakest part of the movie. However if that's all it's got against it, it's doing pretty well.

I give Charlie Bartlett a 4 out of 5.