Charlie Bartlett, about a charming but troubled high school student who dispenses advice and prescription medication to his classmates, is being given mostly passing grades by critics. Sure, the teen film hits the expected themes of "angst, alienation, loneliness, disenchantment, and drug use," writes the Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt. At the same time, it maintains a deft comic touch through "keen observation."
The film also features "pitch-perfect face-offs" between Anton Yelchin, as Charlie, and Robert Downey Jr., as his alcoholic principal, "that could fuel a chemistry lab," writes Ronnie Scheib of Variety. But not everyone's pleased with this Ferris Bueller-esque flick. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says it smacks of something "grudgingly" made by Downey "as some sort of court-ordered community service project for his many drug busts."