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Charlie Bartlett Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… cute first, satirical second. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Robert Downey Jr. is an uncomfortable sight as the school's hard-drinking, overstressed principal.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The film functions as a high-wire act that can leave you giddy with laughter.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A refreshingly entertaining character study that refuses to dumb down its youthful cast or bury their concerns in service of a catchy soundtrack.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    I would classify Charlie Bartlett as a smart teen film. It's more ambitious and overall more successful than its '80s forebears even though the resemblance is unmistakable.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Yelchin delivers one of those performances that pop eyes... It's a breakthrough role.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Charlie Bartlett reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Edgy high school comedy better for mature viewers.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature comedy about high school students is full of images of and references to pills, other drugs, beer, and liquor (all of which are used by the students, who also smoke). Characters discuss suicide, depression, and troubled parent-child relationships. There are images of brutal "fight videos" made by the students, a gun wielded by a potential suicide, and a raucous student demonstration. The hero loses his virginity (off screen, after some kissing scenes), and there's some strong language, including "f--k."

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about our "fast-fix" culture, in which drugs are prescribed to smooth over emotional or social problems. Do you agree with the statements the film is making? Which parts do you think are exaggerated for humor? Families can also discuss the tensions between Charlie and his parents. How does the principal become a surrogate father? How could the characters -- both kid and adult -- be more supportive and smart in dealing with each other?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: High school students suffer from depression, egotism, and fear; adults are less than helpful.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Bully menaces Charlie repeatedly. Kids make fight DVDs that show a bully beating Charlie and other students; includes images of bloody faces, kicks, and hits. A girl describes her father's threat to kill himself with a .38. Students' demonstration against surveillance cameras on campus leads to punching and scuffling. Principal holds a gun; Charlie assaults him to stop a seeming suicide, then they talk.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Kisses between the primary couple, some in close-up, lead to Charlie's "first time" (the movie cuts from kissing to a post-sex shot showing his naked chest; he announces his loss of virginity at a party, and kids cheer). Mention of porn on the Internet. Some sexual language ("get your nana pierced," "p---y," "hooch," "vagina").

  • language false3

    Language: Several uses of "f--k," as well as "s--t" (some with "bull"), "bitch," "hell," "goddamn," and "ass." Other colorful phrases include "this school blows," "total tool," "I will take a massive steaming dump on your life," "bite me," and "you're a dick."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: The Clash poster in teenager's room.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The movie has a thematic focus on drugs and alcohol: Mother drinks (wine) repeatedly and is sometimes visibly drunk. High school students smoke marijuana (and use slang like "roach"). Charlie is prescribed medication by his psychiatrist (Ritalin, Xanax, Zoloft, Prozac), then starts selling his pills to classmates. Reference to dropping acid; the principal drinks. News that a student overdosed on sedatives casts a pall on the school. Mother refers to college drug use; principal discusses his alcoholism. Frequent cigarette smoking by adults and high school students (Murphey in particular).