Mixed or average reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 25
  2. Negative: 3 out of 25
  1. Yelchin delivers one of those performances that pop eyes... It's a breakthrough role.
  2. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    Rollicking story of a rich kid whose wildly successful bid for popularity has him playing drug-distributing shrink to an entire high school boasts pitch-perfect faceoffs between upstart Anton Yelchin and alcoholic principal Robert Downey Jr. that could fuel a chemistry lab.
  3. With its rebellious themes and pharmaceutical props - Ritalin, Prozac, Xanax all get doled out - Charlie Bartlett isn't going to win any awards from parent-teacher groups. But the underlying message of the film, with its nods to "Catcher in the Rye" and - '70s throwback here - "Harold and Maude," is a good one.
  4. Reviewed by: 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.
  5. 75
    What the movie lacks in technical polish (it's not very handsome-looking) and dramatic perfection, it makes up for in unusual social sophistication.
  6. 75
    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.
  7. The film functions as a high-wire act that can leave you giddy with laughter.
  8. It reminded me of "Pump Up the Volume" in many ways.
  9. 63
    Starts to get a bit preachy as it works its way toward a climax heavily influenced by "Rushmore," but it's still well above average for this type of film.
  10. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Jon Poll's harmless, occasionally entertaining debut feature.
  11. Reviewed by: Sam Toy
    After a strong start, the story ceases to challenge itself and its characters, offering easy options and a Prozac-soft finish.
  12. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Like most wannabe heroes of the eager-to-please teen comedy, poor little rich boy Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) is too charming by half and not nearly quirky enough.
  13. If the attention span of Charlie Bartlett didn’t wander here and there, the movie might have been a high school satire worthy of comparison with Alexander Payne’s “Election.” But as it dashes around and eventually turns soft, it loses its train of thought.
  14. Robert Downey Jr. is an uncomfortable sight as the school's hard-drinking, overstressed principal.
  15. 58
    Instead of a unique directorial style and a memorable soundtrack, we get a movie that, visually and aurally, pretty much goes by the book.
  16. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    A relentlessly earnest teen film.
  17. Actually, occasionally, does feel good. Now if only it had something to say.
  18. Decent acting forestalls the inevitable collapse for a long time.
  19. Sequences like the silly montage of Charlie on Ritalin (which just looks like the precious doodles of a former editor), grievously underdeveloped characters, and heavy heapings of sap instead of snark keep Charlie Bartlett from making the dean’s list.
  20. Spending more time with Downey's character would have benefited this movie no end.
  21. For the most part, it's an uneven if amiable and occasionally inspired comedy about getting through adolescence that hits some false notes along the way.
  22. 50
    Watching Charlie Bartlett only makes Wes Anderson's work seem more accomplished by comparison, because it underscores that thin line separating the agreeably fanciful from the overbearingly precious.
  23. The movie feels forced, cliched and derivative.
  24. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Are teenagers really supposed to identify with a clumsy caricature such as Charlie, who, in spite of all his expulsions and school crimes, comes across as a gawping, perpetually surprised infant in an adult body?
  25. The dismal high school comedy Charlie Bartlett has the look, feel and sentiment of a made-for-video cheapie that might have been grudgingly whipped together by Robert Downey Jr. as some sort of court-ordered community service project for his many drug busts.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 66 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 21
  2. Negative: 3 out of 21
  1. Nov 15, 2012
    Anton Yelchin is phenomenal as Bartlet. Though the movie may not always be fantastic, his performance echoes Matthew Broderick's Bueller, and is a breakthrough role. Full Review »
  2. JayH.
    Jun 18, 2008
    Offbeat with a fairly original approach. More than one scene reminded my of Harold and Maude. Good use of music, nice score. Appealing film with effective performances. Full Review »
  3. Jan 19, 2011
    I adore this movie! After renting it out randomly at my local video store I became obsessed with this amazing film. Anton Yelchin is a standout and Kat Dennings as usual is a absolute pleasure to watch on screen. The film combines humour with hard hitting topics such as drugs, depression and family. When my friends and family ask me to recomend a movie to them this is always the first one that pops into my head. The only negative comment I have to say is why the hell wasn't this movie released in theatres in Australia. For such a great film, I don't believe it received the applause that it was definitely lacking. Full Review »