The Education of Charlie Banks Fred Durst

The Education of Charlie Banks Fred Durst
It would be dishonest to not disclose the incredulousness with which one finds themselves reviewing the directorial debut of Limp Bizkit vocalist Fred Durst — expectations for quality are low and unintentional humour is high. However, it's a pleasure to report that The Education of Charlie Banks is actually a proficiently entertaining character study not unlike the average "quirky indie comedy" congesting more multiplexes than art houses these days. Another nebbish youth/bully struggle type of setup, Charlie Banks (Jesse Eisenberg) is a gawky upstate NY kid fascinated with and troubled by Mick (Jason Ritter), a charismatic tough guy who dispenses savage beatings to those who cross him. After a run-in with the law, the boys drift apart but Mick tracks Charlie into his college life and appears as an ever-looming threat over Charlie's guilty conscience. As Mick begins to integrate himself into Charlie's circle of friends in higher education (the nameless university is rumoured to be based on Vassar), both characters reveal vulnerability and assessments of each other's values and moral fibre. Mick struggles with his jealousy of the students' comparatively wealthy lifestyles, while Charlie envies the blooming romance between Mick and Mary (Eva Amurri), Charlie's unabashed crush. Ritter and Eisenberg play off each other effectively, their characters revealing insecurities to one another while never telegraphing their dynamic directly to the audience. There are amateurish elements, like unnecessary characters (scenes with acid casualty Buzzy Tim and smitten dork Michelle, played by Alex Guarino and Olivia Keister, respectively, fall totally flat), as well as stationary cameras leading to noticeably static scenes. Durst still has a ways to go to sharpen his flair for mise-en-scéne but his debut leaves unexpected curiosity and optimism for his next film. (Anchor Bay)