Click for deeper and higher resolution insights into Ricci’s technique.
We very very very rarely go to a movie I’d like to see. Most of the time, we go to movies I not only do not particularly want to see, but that offend my sense of decency and decorum until I am as numb and sickened as Ignatius J. Reilly at a Paris Hilton bar opening.
First offender is Charlie Bartlett, a lame-ass, juvenile and shallow rip-off of an original and decently plotted, as well as humorous and unconventional (at least for the first 2 acts) movie with superior actors, Rushmore.
Bad enough they ripped off the very speech patterns of Jason Schwartzman’s Max Fischer, along with his private school blazer, neurotic need to be popular and his penchant for fantastic and over-blown plots that land him in hot water with the authorities, the writer of this piece of shit even steals the trope of his protagonist befriending the bully who bedevil’s him and gives him a big role in the climactic scene, the big play he’s producing! Jesus titty fucking christ.
Since we have no Kat Denning nudes, we present Ryder and Ricci, former young ingenues who actually had some talent, showing to what Denning will have to resort to prolong her talent-challenged career. A glimpse into the subtle acting grace of Ricci.
Along the way we get implausible and risible attempts to “realistically” portray high-school life. Fischer at least worked his ass off to be popular and a leader: Bartlett just jacks prescription drugs, and sells them along with a spiel of platitudes and idiocy that even the plot exposes as worthless drivel when one of the students he’s counseling attempts suicide with the very drugs Bartlett dispenses to him in a supposedly altruistic attempt to “help”.
If the movie had any fucking balls, the kid would have died, there would have been an investigation, and the insufferable prick Bartlett would have had to face up to his evil bullshit, but of course the kid survives and Bartlett gets the girl, beats the principal and even comes out a hero, smelling like a rose, with a final “fuck you” is shown as conning a psychiatrist screening new interns who notes Bartlett not only lacks any qualifications, he should be DIS-qualified by his many expulsions, lack of academic accomplishments and disciplinary infractions, not to mention alleged felonies and drug dealing, along with possible sexual abuse of a minor, according to today’s stringent abuse laws.
Ryder and her tits, in a personal appearance. Click for further study.>
In their attempt to create an automatically cool character, devoid of any true resonance or honesty or adherence to the laws of reality, Bartlett is enormously rich, can play any number of disparate piano styles fluently, is a financial genius, a glib and successful entrepreneur, video producer, researcher who can immediately collate data and information and use it practically, all under the nose of a compliant and clueless school admin, led by the one bright spot in the movie, Robert Downey Jr. as the reluctant principal and Bartlett’s main foil, playing the Bill Murray role to Bartlett’s Fischer.
I guess the guys who wrote this have set the highschool in the mythical universe of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, where there is no school security, where you can sell drugs in an organized and highly structured fashion for hours a day in the restroom, only momentarily dispersing before reassembling when the principal walks by (there are apparently not only no security personnel at the school, there are also no teachers and no one ever goes to class, they just get together to act out scenes that propel the script).
Also requiring not suspension of disbelief, but an ignorance and disrespect for any semblance of real high school reality is the herd mentality of the students, who flock to Charlie for drugs and advice. Not to abuse the drugs, mind you, but because they have real, undiagnosed and untreated mental problems that only a high school student whose read a few psychiatry books can divine and cure. Yeah, right.
There was plenty of drug dealing in hs when I was there, and I happen to know a lot of young adults and have a pretty firm grasp on the situation in real life: there are still plenty of drug dealers. They do sell Adderall and Xanax and Vicodin and other prescription meds that are easily obtained by gaming uncaring and/or incompetent medical professionals, but its not to treat problems, its the agent that creates problems for these kids.
Not in this movie, everything Bartlett does, except cause one kid to almost OD, is positive and helps the kids, but before he can ascend into heaven, the OD makes him repent and he flushes all the drugs in a selfless sacrifice -he is rich and has a seemingly infinite bankroll of cash to do whatever he wants, when he wants, while his partner lives in the white trash part of town and is understandably upset at flushing away 1000’s of $$$ in potential profits, not to mention all the mental healing those drugs would provide, but Bartlett is resolute, since the plot must advance and he must always be made altruistic, honest, decent and heroic.
I call bullshit, especially since he pays absolutely no price for acquiring apparently dozens of prescriptions fraudulently, making out like a bandit financially, then spending the money on a huge party (no beer or drinking is depicted, yeah right, another realistic depiction of a wild highschool bash! – but to do otherwise would besmirch their carefully constructed character that is holy and good. He manages to fuck a hot and willing hottie (the principal’s daughter, btw, who does nothing throughout the movie but shit all over her kind, thoughtful, decent and honest father, who puts her interest above everything and cuts her unending slack).
This is also depicted as cool and she’s a role model that every girl should look up to and emulate, but of course she bears zero resemblance to real life highschool girls.
On the subject of a complete ignorance of young post adolescents and their real motivations, one of the movie’s tropes is Charlie constantly whining that he only wants to be popular, and the adults saying there is more to life than that, but being struck dumb and stunned by his rejoinder: “like what?”
Of course Downey gets to say the big secret of life answer: “Its what you do with that popularity!” which is such a mindless, ignorant non-sequitor the author of that piece of tripe should not only be marched out in the rain and shot with hollow-point slugs in the guts and extremities before the coup de grace upwards through the mouth, blowing his brains out the back of his head, he should be disemboweled, castrated and forced to watch his entrails and genitals burnt before his face as he shrieks in agony. That’s how bad that line is.
“Its what you do with that popularity” assumes that GETTING popular IS the be-all and end-all, so then you can use that popularity to do great works, instead of making lots of money selling drugs to poor kids and disturbed individuals so you can impress a chick and throw a huge party cementing your popularity. Like, presumably, leading a protest that leads to the trashing of the school because there are cameras in the common areas.
The “I just want to be popular” cliche is the most fucked up, nauseating bullshit in highschool movies going back 30 years and its such a false, retarded and vomit-inducing trope that I’d like to put it to bed once and for all. Girls do want to hang with the kool kids, granted, but for guys, any guy who isn’t a fucking fag doesn’t give a shit about being popular, other than the fact it might be a tool to what guys in highschool ARE truly concerned with to the point of maniacal obsession: getting laid and losing their virginity.
Now, guys are as awkwardly stupid and ineffectual at actually pulling this off as guys are at unsuccessful attempts to be “popular” in these crapfests, but being “popular” is only a guy’s concern if you want to suck cock in Drama club or Student Government.
Teen age guys balls are the absolute omnipotent influence on everything they do, and the force of the obsession with sex is probably partly responsible for why they are so inept at actually getting laid. All the blood your brain needs resides in unwanted and unrequited boners. Even getting stoned was mostly to try to set up situations where you had a girl alone and high and hopefully ready to put out, if not go all the way at least to make out and let you cop a feel or even get some stink-finger, which was excellent fuel for hundreds of later jack-off sessions (hundreds being the average for a week or so of teen-age life).
Bartlett’s behavior impresses the hottest girl in school, but only incidentally and with no real effort on his point to capitalize. She basically come on to HIM, which is another bullshit movie device that never actually happens in real life, unless you are the captain of the football team or other high profile BMOC who always gets the choice pussy by virtue of his inherent social standing, not any real accomplishment of his own: he lives in the neighborhoods of the A-list girls, their families know each other, they run in the same circles, they are members of the same country club and swim in the same pools since they were kids, they are in the same upper-middle class social strata.
In real life Bartlett’s plots and plans would land him in Juvenile Court, would impress no one and he would be beaten as in the only plausible scene, because he is a dork and an asshole and he would be deserving of beatings, just like the pathetic whiner kid who OD’s, strictly for attention, as his asinine and sulky suicide note attests. He takes 5 fucking Xanax out of a bottle of dozens, so he obviously wasn’t really trying.
Which brings me to another plot point: I’m considerably older than these highschoolers, but I use the computer and cell phone and other technology more in a day than the entire school full of kids does throughout the entire movie.
They pass notes. Yeah, right, like in Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher‘s day maybe, but today’s teens text message incessantly. They do it while they are on the phone with another teen, they do it while driving with their knees, they do it below the desk in class, they do it sitting in the commons a few yards from the person they are texting while actually talking to people in closer proximity.
And how does Bartlett research psychiatry and various drugs? He goes to the library (presumably using the Dewey Decimal System) and sits there slogging through BOOKS looking for his particular diagnosis and the drug to match. Yeah, uh huh, when you could do it in like 1/100000000003th the time by just Googling.
And also, they supposedly edit, produce and run off hard-copies of DVD’s of the bully beating the shit out of the school’s pathetic fucktards, including Bartlett, and they quickly sell out as grinning, eager students clutching 10 dollar bills fall all over themselves to get ripped off. Yeah, right, again. In about 10 mins after the first person bought one, the entire thing would be on YouTube and available on IsoHunt (click if you want to save $14 and download this shitty movie for free) and they wouldn’t sell a single one.
Most kids, and adults for that matter, are used to not paying for shit they can get for free on the net, which is why the music industry is going belly up and why, with the advent of universal broadband, the after-market movie industry will soon go the same way. The notion kids would line up to buy some stupid video is risible and unlikely. It would might be a 5 day wonder on CollegeHumor with a million views, but no one would make a dime off it, just like all the other internet video stars who flame out in a week.
So, besides the fact that the poorly written, asinine, unrealistic, derivative and irritating script is a lame rip-off of Rushmore (down to the main charater’s enunciation and speech patterns, as well as manner and costume), the movie is profoundly unfunny and not only a waste of time, its actually a black hole of negative entertainment that not only doesn’t deliver humor, insight or provoke thought and discussion.
It is in fact, repellent and sends a despicable, hateful message to kids on how anti-social and destructive behavior (even to the point of nearly killing a mentally disturbed kid he exploited) is a path to popularity and getting pussy, at which point you should fuck over everyone who helped you get popular and further exploit your popularity and your enablers to reinforce your rep by pandering to the masses at the expense of your real friends, because the important thing is WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR POPULARITY.
On another subject, I’m sure this punk asshole Anton Yelchin will get raves for his over the top mugging and stunt acting, while Downey is ignored in what is, at least for the part of the movie up until he’s fired, a very good and understated and layered performance.
Downey effortlessly plays a normal person in a normal situation (although the characters problems with alcohol and violent outbursts are not much of a stretch for the talented but troubled Downey), a principal who doesn’t really like being in administration because it puts him in conflict with students, who he genuinely seems to like, because it forces him to be an Authority Figure. He projects more by quietly and realistically delivering his lines than Yelchin does by running all over the set, doing lousy accents and campy and inaccurate impersonations, grinning and over-acting.
Its always easier to play Nicholson as the Joker than it is to for Keaton to portray Bruce Wayne. That’s why stunt acting of disturbed, deranged or disabled characters wins so many Oscars, ala Rain Man, Shine, Silence of the Lambs My Left Foot, Scent of a Woman, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Reversal of Fortune Leaving Las Vegas, As Good As It Gets, etc.
The female lead, Kat Denning is an equally shitty actress, obviously signed on for her resemblance to a younger, thicker Liv Tyler who actually eats food now and then. She goes through all her acting class emotions by the numbers, and spends the rest of the time smugly posing and vamping. She’ll find work for the next 2-3 years until her main talents, big tits and youthful movie chubbiness (which is about 20 pounds lighter than real world chubbiness) become a worn looking mid-20’s, by the same standards that landed her the gig to begin with. Live by the tits and youth in lieu of talent, die by it.
Its like how Winona Ryder‘s patent roles were usurped by the younger Christina Ricci and on to the next generation. When did Tyler or Ryder last do a movie, anyway? Since Monster, five years ago, Ricci has done Speed Racer and Black Snake Moan. Ryder hasn’t really done anything memorable or successful since 1999’s irritating Girl Interrupted, the paean to poor little rich girls and how hard life is for the spoiled and privileged little whingers who didn’t get enough hugs.
This smug little bint will not even last as long as Ryder or Ricci, who can actually act. That’s the best revenge for having to suffer through her bullshit scene chewing, Schadenfreude.
This movie is not only worthless as entertainment, it spews asinine and destructive messages about how “cool” it is to sell drugs, destroy school property, beat social rejects viciously while video-taping it, then sell the violent, blood-spewing assaults to other kids who also deem it “cool”. It represents how all this destructive and hateful behavior is not only without consequences, it actually makes you popular and successful, at the expense of others, even to the point of their death or incarceration.
Bartlett is a rich and privileged Charlie Manson, inciting others to do his dirty work (the bully actually sells the drugs, keeping Bartlett’s hands clean, Bartlett orchestrates and controls protests behind the scenes, keeping out of the action, Bartlett reaps pussy, money, popularity and drugs through an unbroken chain of anti-social and evil manipulation of others and comes out the hero, presumably about to con his way through adulthood in the same way.
I prefer to assume he ends up like his father, in prison, finally paying for the lives he’s ruined and the misery his selfish, narcissistic behavior has caused.