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The Education of Charlie Banks



After witnessing a sociopathic older bully named Mick beat up two high-school jocks, straight-arrow Charlie secretly tells the cops what happened but then rescinds his testimony thinking Mick never knew. Three years later, the two are reunited when Mick unexpectedly turns up in Charlie's college dorm and starts dangerously weaving himself back into Charlie's life.


As Charlie, Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale, the upcoming Adventureland) gets the well-intentioned if weak-kneed nature of a kid who is alternately concerned, confused and intimidated by a charismatic but creepy guy he can't seem to shake. The real revelation is John Ritter's son, Jason Ritter, playing a classic bully personality but giving it an intriguing cutting edge. His Mick is a guy who seems to be a combination of a potentially dynamic individual and a walking time bomb, a dude who can't control himself but tries to manipulate others. The object of Charlie's desire and Mick's sudden attention is also well-played by Eva Amurri (daughter of Susan Sarandon).


A rare college story that isn't about boobs and beer parties, The Education of Charlie Banks tries hard to be a character-driven drama about the divergent social paths of young people who are clearly the products of the environment in which they grew up.


Director/rock star Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) makes an uneven directorial debut and seems to fall victim to the inconsistencies in the sketchy screenplay by Peter Elkoff. Exactly what point are they trying to make here? Never rat on a bully or he'll come back to haunt you? Everyone's had experience with this kind of person, but the frequent lack of credibility in the treatment probably won't have many in the audience relating.


A two-year wait for distribution after its 2007 Tribeca Film Festival debut doesn't bode well for a nicely performed but ultimately indifferent independently produced movie.



Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.