The Education of Charlie Banks

Posted March 26, 2009 in Film

In ’80s teen films, the struggle between the poor and rich was a prank war. Here in this ’80s nostalgia, it’s a massacre, but though all the bourgies quake in fear of Mick (Jason Ritter), an NYC orphan who uses his hands to make fists, not hold books, they all secretly know that in time, he’ll lose the game of life. So does Mick, though he’d never admit it. When he shows up at his old friend Danny’s (Chris Marquette) exclusive college—a snug nest for the scions of senators, barons, billionaires, and the occasional financial aid genius—the streets to everyone else’s future seem clearly paved with gold. In short time, he makes Danny’s roommate Charlie (a stuttering, charming Jesse Eisenberg) miserable: Mick steals his crush (Eva Amurri, who has the legs of a showgirl and the face of Mona Lisa) and terrorizes him by hinting that he knows Charlie ratted him out years ago for nearly killing two fools at a house party. Peter Elkoff’s script has worthy pretensions of dissecting the haves of the world, people like Charlie’s friend Leo (Sebastian Stan) who use their family jet like a taxi and truly can’t conceive of struggle. The incredibly handsome Ritter, who approaches his role like an amplified (and Irish) Tony Manero, seems capable of embracing his character’s tough guy regret that no one ever asked him to flex his brains. But director Fred Durst—yes that Fred Durst—is too cautious to get ambitious with the film’s potential cynicism, instead suffocating this college drama with the flatness of a TV movie, and occasionally—and egregiously—spackling it with sentimental music that makes it sag when it should slice. (Amy Nicholson)


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