Charlie Bartlett | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Charlie Bartlett

Jon Poll's comedy is a cute-teen romp, but with a bit of an edge.

It's also a nod to cinema's greatest teen-nerd iconoclastic hero. Smart rich kid Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) has trouble fitting into his new high school. But he sticks to his strengths -- brains, empathy and easy access to prescription drugs -- and soon finds himself popular and sought-after, first as the school's resident therapist, and later as its rebel-with-a-cause, butting heads with authority. Former bad boy Robert Downey Jr. portrays the frustrated principal, and it's a nice bit of casting that lets Downey's just-middle-aged character express grudging admiration for young Bartlett's brio. Charlie openly tips its hat to Hal Ashby's quirky 1971 classic Harold and Maude: Charlie's wealthy, slightly out-of-focus mom (Hope Davis) recalls Harold's momma, and Poll's choice to have Charlie perform Harold's theme song, "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out," nails it. Starts Fri., Feb. 22.

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