With a Falsely Confident Hero, Rob Reiner’s Addiction Drama ‘Being Charlie’ Doesn’t Make It to Step One


At some point, we will have seen addiction portrayed onscreen so many times that we won’t remember what it looked like before the movies obsessed over it.

Being Charlie, the new drama from Rob Reiner, gives off the eerie feeling that we may have already hit the saturation point. In this case, an eighteen-year-old son of a movie star running for governor of California falls down the rabbit hole, steals things, shames his parents, hits rock bottom, and begins to make amends.

An antihero with a cunning word and a heart of gold can carry a movie centered on drug abuse, but the wealthy Charlie (Nick Robinson) doesn’t often get past the cunning word, particularly treating the women in his life like shit, with zero comeuppance. He calls an addiction counselor fat in as many ways as possible, reduces most women he meets to a will-she-or-won’t-she-fuck-me conundrum, and puts his doting mother through hell.

If Charlie were just unlikable, it all might be palatable and even fun. But his behavior draws more of an eye-roll than a laugh or a snarl, despite Robinson’s confident, believable performance. It’s the material that lacks introspection, dwelling on how the world’s done this kid wrong. But this kid evidently holds the power in nearly every situation he’s in. It’s irksome to see the addict treated with kid gloves, the film avoiding poking into the wounds that we see on him but that he doesn’t.

Being Charlie

Directed by Rob Reiner


Opens May 6, Regal Union Square