A crafty rich kid runs rings round the adults while winning acclaim from his peers in Charlie Bartlett, an offbeat comedy whose protagonist’s wiliness and charm recalls Matthew Broderick‘s 1980s teen hero Ferris Bueller. In other words, the kind of cocky teen whom half the audience will like to see thumped. Here it’s Anton Yelchin in the role of the eponymous Charlie, a wealthy teenager who lands up in a typical high school after being expelled from his latest private alma mater. And, yes, he does get thumped on his first day.
But he then sets himself up as the student body’s unofficial psychiatrist, handing out advice and prescription drugs in the school bogs to his mixed-up fellow pupils. His activities win him the popularity he craves but bring him into conflict with Robert Downey Jr’s careworn school principal. Winding the principal up even more, he begins dating his rebellious daughter, played by Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist star Kat Dennings. Like its protagonist, Jon Poll’s debut movie is quirky and smart; how much you enjoy it, though, will probably depend on whether you warm to smug, troubled Charlie. But Yelchin and Dennings are definitely actors to watch; you’ll be seeing more of Yelchin in both the new Star Trek movie (as Chekov) and Terminator Salvation later this year. (Released 23rd February)