I’m a lean, mean, joint-smoking machine!
Director : Rob Reiner
Main Cast : Nick Robinson, Cary Elwes, Devon Bostick, Morgan Saylor, Susan Misner, Common and Ricardo Chavira
Firstly, my apologies about the gap since my last review. I was hoping to post this review last week but I’ve spent most of that time at week and ill.
Another film from my Youtube list of films I want to watch, I am looking forward to what will hopefully be the first decent film starring Nick Robinson that I have seen. He has been in “Jurassic World” and “The Fifth Wave”, neither of which were great. He is one of a growing number of young actors that seem to constantly get roles despite not seemingly having any emotions. Having said that, I’m happy to give anyone a chance and to be fair to Nick, two bad films doesn’t necessarily make him a bad actor, so here we go.
I like stories about redemption, as well as deep and complex characters. Some of my favourite characters in movie history are those that are multi-layered and aren’t simply one-dimensional wonders. There appears to be something relatively unique about this given that the character seemingly doesn’t want to be redeemed, but feels the need to.
I’m not claiming that it is a completely new concept, but at least it’s trying something slightly different, and I applaud them for that. Having said that, the reviews I’ve read have not been good at all, so
Charlie (Robinson) leaves his rehab centre on his birthday and promises his parents that this time will be different, all before stealing the prescription medicine from the mother of a guy giving him a lift. He does eventually get back home but is sent back to rehab within minutes as his father (Elwes) is scared that he will ruin the Governors election campaign that he strong favourite for. Charlie only agrees due to convincing from his drug-taking accomplice Adam (Bostick).
The extremely disgruntled Charlie quickly makes friends at the new rehab centre, and finds himself developing a romantic relationship with the emotionally unstable Eva (Saylor). The two work their way out of the rehab centre and into half-way houses, although they are actively denied spending time with each other, although they can spend time away from the houses together with the permission of their parents. Charlie’s mother (Misner) gives permission for him to do this and the pair make their way to a beach house for a romantic get away, but can both of them stay away from the drugs, or will old habits return?
An improvement on the usual Nick Robinson offerings?
Robinson is considerably better in this film than some of his previous efforts and I think that’s because he has found a character that has some depth to him, which is something that can’t be said for most of his other efforts. There is a scene towards the end of the film *spoiler warning* in which the character has reached such a low that he ends up taking drugs again, but even as he’s doing it you can tell that he’s trying to convince himself not to do it, and Robinson captured that very well.
That scene was the moment I realised that I liked the movie as I found myself thinking “don’t do it” and I felt very personally disappointed that the character had decided to undo all of his hard work. The thing is that you understand where he is coming from at that point in the story. I won’t reveal why he gets to that point, but you understand, even if you don’t agree.
Without revealing what it is, the reason you understand is because the film, whilst not pacey in any sense of the word, develops the characters quite well, including the minor characters, and that relationships between them are explored more than most similar films. The relationship between Charlie and Eva is fairly interesting as well and the reason for this is that you can never figure out her motivations or what she is thinking, and whilst the two have a natural connection, they never look like they will ultimately end up together due to her insecurities. In some ways the relationship is similar to Scott and Ramona from “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”, but with the insecurity being in the opposite gender.
As mentioned above, the film doesn’t have any pacing whatsoever really, it is very much a character driven film and I can imagine that this would turn a lot of people off. For me I’d rather have a film that takes its time to have a developed set of characters, rather than something happening every single minute and yet you don’t care. For example, most of the horror films released these days fall very much into the latter. They will spend the time trying to increase the body count as quickly and violently as possible, but they don’t take the time to get you to care about the characters that are being killed.
Whilst they’re not fully fleshed out characters, you get to know quite a few of those staying at the rehab and half-way centres that Charlie and Eva are at, so you get to see what each is like interacting with others when each other isn’t around. What makes this even better is that the conversations when they’re with other people don’t revolve around the other person, which is another common trend in movies. The problem with a lot of films involving a romantic angle is that when either side of the relationship are away from their partner, that’s all they can talk about, whereas “Being Charlie” doesn’t go down that route, thankfully.
The only issue that I really have with “Being Charlie” is that it is somewhat predictable in terms of the relationship between Charlie and his father. The ending feels a bit unoriginal and whilst the majority of what was before it was fresh, the final ten or so minutes was nothing that I hadn’t already seen.
I do also find it funny that the rapper “Common” appears as one of the main cast, even though his character has maybe five minutes of screen time. It’s not even as if he is a well known name in the acting world, especially not well known enough to be credited as a main cast member.
Don’t get in expecting a fast-paced look at the world of drugs in youth culture because you’ll be expected. Infact, if you’re expecting nearly 100 minutes of anything even vaguely similar to other films where the taking of drugs is a plot point then you’ll also be disappointed, but if you are after a film that builds its characters to the point where you become emotionally involved them and their decisions.
I’m not going to lie, I’m being a bit generous by giving this the approved stamp because for the majority I wasn’t really sure whether I liked it or not. I loved that it was developing the characters, but there just wasn’t a lot happening and you are waiting for long periods of time for the story to move along somewhat.
Still, give it a watch and I am giving it my approved stamp because it is ultimately a decent film and one I think that those who read my reviews on a regular basis will enjoy for the most part.