The Education of Charlie Banks

Film
2 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

DATING POOL Ritter, center, blocks the competition.

Bullies rule the schoolyard while eggheads graduate with honors. So believes nice guy Charlie Banks (Eisenberg), who steers clear of charming but violent thug Mick (Ritter) in high school and earns an exclusive spot at a tony university—until Mick pops up on campus for an impromptu visit and insinuates himself into high society with his quick smile and chiseled body. In a matter of weeks, Charlie’s friends have dressed Mick in their preppy best while Charlie’s teachers compliment the interloper in class. And that girl Charlie likes? Mick starts sleeping with her.

The exploration of the dark tensions between the good-behavior superego and the unbridled id is a fecund subject for Durst, onetime frontman for nu-metal rockers Limp Bizkit and no stranger to raw hostility. His film is unusually sympathetic toward the anger-management candidate, which would be a potentially interesting choice if the script didn’t undermine it by making Charlie and Mick simplistic archetypes.

In his directing debut, the testosterone-tinged singer proves himself a competent if uninspired filmmaker. If anything, his contribution is too weak (his second feature, last year’s generic family-friendly Ice Cube vehicle, The Longshots, is similarly bland). For a man prone to unleashed inhibitions, Durst’s creative approach feels all bottled up.—Stephen Garrett

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