In the stadium of high school movies, Charlie Bartlett takes it's place in the mezzanine level alongside the likes of Grease 2. But in the way the latter film boosted the career of Michelle Pfeiffer, Charlie Bartlett will likely do the same for Anton Yelchin.
The 18 year-old Yelchin (turning 19 next week...) was the only thing worth tolerating in last year's Alpha Dog. He overshadowed the rising Emile Hirsch, and outshone superstar Justin Timberlake. It was like watching River Phoenix in Stand By Me: a youngster wise beyond his years, with future star-power pouring out before his voice had even cracked.
It may seem an odd mixture, but Yelchin reminds me of a cross between Jim Carrey and Michael J. Fox. He has the turn-on-a-dime dramatic dynamics of Carrey, and the man child vulnerability of Fox. In Bartlett, Yelchin cranks into lunacy doing Ray Charles, Monty Python, and a menstration monologue, then brings it back for a climactic scene opposite Robert Downey Jr.
Time will tell if young Yelchin follows the path of a Shia LeBeouf or plateaus and trails off like Billy Crudup. He's got the Star Trek juggernaut lined-up for 2009. Perhaps that will be his Transformers.