August 20, 2009
Review - " The Education of Charlie Banks "
(in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Charlie is genuinely afraid of Mick. He goes out of his way to avoid him.
Time passes. Charlie and his friend Danny (Chris Marquette) end up as roommates at a posh, unnamed Ivy League college.
(It's Brown, in Rhode Island.) Danny was fairly friendly with the terrifying Mick when the boys were all younger, but even he is
surprised when Danny suddenly turns up at the dorm. It's been years since any of the guys have seen one another. Charlie,
of course, is stunned at this turn of events. He was sure he'd never see Mick again, and fears his old nemesis might be out
But Mick has bigger fish to fry. Determined to fit in on campus, Mick begins to dress like his preppie friends, audit their
lectures, attend their parties and flirt with their women. He romances Mary (Eva Amurri), the woman Charlie adores, and
despite his rough edges, Mick begins to flourish. Charlie realizes he's no longer afraid of Mick. Mick's unpredictability
provides a constant source of suspense: Is he insinuating himself out of a true desire for friendship, or to seek revenge for a
longtime wrong? Has the leopard changed his spots?
Eisenberg is essentially playing the same character here as he did in the "The Squid and the Whale" and "Adventureland".
Like Michael Cera, he's got that likable underdog thing going, a combination of awkward shyness and quick wit. There's a
palpable tension to his scenes with Ritter, who's reminiscent of a young Matt Dillon here in his looks and demeanor. "The
Education of Charlie Banks" is easy to watch, particularly thanks to the superb performance from Jason Ritter as the volatile,
charming Mick. But the storytelling is smallscreen calibre, with everything on the surface. When Charlie starts talking about
the symbolism in The Great Gatsby and when Mick confesses it's the first book he ever read cover-to-cover, you can feel the
bruises where you're being hit over the head.
Still, "The Education of Charlie Banks" is watchable, and some of the dialogue about academic life is terrific.
Fred Durst, who made his feature directorial debut with this film, gets a lot out of his actors.
The performances are far from perfect, but they're engaging. You can feel Mick's yearning for the beautiful life he's stumbled
into at the university, and there's a whiff of hope for his character that's heartbreaking.
It's just a shame the story wasn't handled as a simple memoir, rather than some sort of cautionary tale. There's a
rich-boy/poor-boy conflict in the story that gets tossed around but never really investigated; inadvertently or otherwise, the
Mick character is far more interesting than the Charlie Banks character.
Mind you, Charlie is the one who gets that
education. Outside of its hasty and
heavy-handed ending, "The Education of
Charlie Banks" gets a passing grade.
You will have to walk out. Despite the hot tub
scene it doesn't really even get close.
So, Charlie banks is the 100th film I've seen
this year, what movie will be the 100th review
I write? Not including the compilation reviews
this one is #89. #100 will likely come sometime
in late September. Any suggestions?
The Education of Charlie Banks
Directed by: Fred Durst
Starring: Sebastian Stan, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Chris
Marquette, Eva Amurri, Dennis Boutsikaris, Gloria Votsis
About a month ago I noticed I was fast approaching the 100 mark in
movies seen this year. I was curious what the 100th film would be.
I didn't even notice I hit #100 until I added the last three movies I
watched to the list and low and behold, there it was, Charlie Banks
was number one hundred. If I had known I was about ot hit that mark
would I have chosen differently? Would I have have thought about my
choice,? Would I have chosen a different DVD or even saved it for a
movie opening at the theater instead? Who knows. I think it's better
this way. Instead of my making a conscious decision let fate, random
chance, make the selection. So here it is, the 100th fully qualified
movie of 2009. "The Education of Charlie Banks"!
College is often regarded as the place for self reinvention, but try as
he might, Charlie Banks just can't make the past go away.
A coming-of-age story set in the 1980s, "The Education of Charlie
Banks" involves two very different young men. Charlie (Jesse
Eisenberg), who narrates some of the movie, is a middle-class kid
growing up in New York. The 'boogie man' in his life is Mick Leary
(Jason Ritter), a tough but popular kid from Greenwich Village who's
quick with his fists. As a boy in New York's Greenwich Village in the
early 1970s, Charlie sees Mick through the school-bus window,
strutting at the basketball court. A few years later, Charlie watches
Mick senselessly beat two guys at a party; he runs to the cops, but
later reneges for fear of retribution.