Coping With Rehab and Romance in “Being Charlie”
By Skip Sheffield
Rob Reiner has an intimate knowledge of the problems of privileged Hollywood kids. He uses this to great advantage in “Being Charlie;” the story of the son of an actor-turned politician who has gone wrong.
The son is Charlie (Nick Robinson), whose father David Mills (Carey Elwes) made a name for himself in pirate movies and is now trying to parley that fame into the Governorship of California. If that sounds like Ronald Reagan it is probably no coincidence.
“Being Charlie” was written by Matt Elsofon and Nick Reiner, who happens to be the son of director Rob Reiner, whose extensive movie catalog includes “This is Spinal Tap” and “The Princess Bride.” Cary Elwes had a lead role in that movie, so he is no stranger to Rob Reiner. Rob’s dad is the famous writer, comedian and actor Carl Reiner.
The story begins at Charlie’s 18th birthday in the rehab center out in the desert. It is not a happy birthday.
“Tell us what you want to thank God for,” says the group leader in typical 12-step speak.
Charlie answers the next morning by smashing out the stained glass window in the chapel and setting off on foot to hitchhike to Los Angeles. When he gets to his home, he discovers he has been ambushed into an intervention. Dad wants to keep everything under wraps until the election is over. Mom (Susan Misner) is much more sympathetic, but dad orders Charlie into another rehab in L.A. There he meets Eva (Morgan Saylor), a girl who is wrestling with her own demons.
Group leader Travers (rapper Common) warns Charlie romance between patients is forbidden. Being the rebellious sort, this will never stop Charlie.
So there is a little romance on the side between misadventures in which Charlie is invariably rescued by his best friend Adam (Devon Bostick).
“Being Charlie” is not a happily ever after love story. It realistically depicts the perils of backsliding, and there is no easier place to backslide than Venice Beach, where Charlie’s parents have a luxurious beach house nearby.
Nick Robinson is a good-looking kid with considerable gravitas. Morgan Saylor is a sexy lost soul. Devon Bostick is a deceptively “Teflon-coated” character who always seems to elude disaster, until he doesn’t.
We all know drugs are bad, especially heroin. You can’t call this a cautionary tale, but it does explore why some kinds fall into a downward spiral.