Charlie has just turned 18. His father is a former actor running to be the next Governor of California (sounds familiar, but Cary Elwes is nowhere near the shape of the Terminator, no offense to Mr. Elwes or his fans). Charlie has the potential for a great life ahead of him. But he has a problem- he struggles with drug addiction. What follows is an emotional roller coaster as he tries to overcome his addiction at the insistence of his parents while simultaneously falling for a fellow recovering addict going through the same treatment program. The political sub-plot is also timely, though not on as grand a scale as the current election.
Nick Robinson (Jurassic World, Melissa & Joey) is superb as the titular Charlie. I do not know many drug addicts, but he seems to play it sincerely, albeit a little clichéd; though part of that could be due to the writing by first time writers Nick Reiner and Matt Elisofon. Or it could be that drug users follow certain patterns; I cannot say for certain. Nick Reiner loosely based this film on his own experiences, including being homeless and repeated attempts at entering rehab where he met Matt. Like Charlie, Nick’s father is also a famous actor, as well as director, writer, and producer; that is his father is Rob Reiner, who also directed this film.
As alluded to earlier, the brilliant Cary Elwes (Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Liar Liar, The Princess Bride) plays Charlie’s father, David. David and his wife exemplify what it must be like for the family of a drug addict that wants him to get better and must be willing to fight to help him succeed. There is also the added sub-plots of David being a former actor and current political figure dealing with being a celebrity during this trying time. It makes for some interesting scenes and potentially provides some insight into the Hollywood and political lifestyles. The scenes between David and Charlie bring a lot of tension and it is sometimes difficult to tell if David cares more about Charlie or his career; though it probably is Charlie.
Another noteworthy performance belongs to Morgan Saylor, who plays Eva, Charlie’s love interest. Charlie’s parents kind of trick him into giving rehab another shot, but it is Eva that makes him get serious about it and start to maintain his sobriety. The two develop a relationship even though it is not recommended when they leave rehab for their respective halfway houses. The two try to stay clean together, but… spoilers. An argument could be made that love is kind of like an addiction; the actions taken by someone who is lovesick are similar, at least in some respects, to someone on drugs.
A movie about drug addicts is not normally my cup of tea, but I liked this movie and highly recommend it, especially to anyone suffering with addiction. It had me emotionally invested and it almost brought a tear to my eye at least once. It is dramatic, maybe a little melodramatic infrequently, but it also has some moments of comic relief. Normally, standup comedy in movies does not play well, but Charlie’s talent night performance provided a few genuine laughs.