The Education of Charlie Banks: Fred Durst’s Second Film?!?


While Fred Durst’s name triggers automatic sniggering, it turns out he’s not a God-awful director. His second film—the doggedly uninspiring sports movie The Longshots—died a quick death; meanwhile, his debut, The Education of Charlie Banks, is just hitting theaters. If it’s a failure, at least it’s a laudable one instead of cynically by-the-numbers. In early-’70s New York, young Charlie (Jesse Eisenberg) watches acquaintance Mick (Jason Ritter) nearly beat two guys to death over nothing. Charlie decides to testify against Mick, then changes his mind for fear of alienating mutual friend Danny (Chris Marquette). At college, Danny and Charlie’s tranquil paradise—books and girls, with Charlie coming into his gawky, charming own—is interrupted when Mick shows up, ostensibly just to visit. Thankfully, Peter Elkoff’s script isn’t interested in Charlie and Mick playing cat-and-mouse; instead, Mick’s adopted by local prep Leo (Sebastian Stan, doing a fantastic if chronologically misplaced Bret Easton Ellis drunken preppie) and has a second chance at turning his life around. Durst and Elkoff deliver a nuanced scenario of class assimilation and resentment, then flub the ending, leaning too heavily on conspicuous evocations of The Great Gatsby and Raging Bull.

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