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Charlie Bartlett


Stars: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr, Kat Dennings, Hope Davis, Mark Rendall, Megan Park, Tyler Hilton

Director: Jon Poll

Any film that casts Iron Man's Downey as the principal of a college has to be acutely weird. This is not only strange, though, but funny and life-affirming at the same time.

Charlie Bartlett (the talented Yelchin) is not only odd but opportunistic. Expelled from the latest of a string of private schools, this time for fabricating driving licences for his fellow under-age pupils, Charlie and his equally eccentric mom (Davis) find the only option left is the local high school.

Once here, Charlie goes into psychiatry, but soon finds a new scam, selling - with the help of the school bully (Hilton) - prescription pills to pupils with problems. When this racket is rumbled, Charlie has equal success simply offering advice. His affair with the principal's daughter (Dennings), however, brings him into conflict with the authorities.

The relationship between Charlie and his mother - not to mention their seriously sensational piano duets together - is underplayed, but otherwise this is a delightful enterprise that everyone should enjoy; selling such off-the-wall entertainment to the public may be the only problem.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Verve (MGM). Colour by deluxe.
97 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 05 May 2008