‘Being Charlie’: Stoned or sober, the hero’s a little weasel

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In “Being Charlie,” Nick Robinson plays a TV star’s son addicted to drugs. | PALADIN

Imagine being Nick Reiner.

His father is Rob Reiner, who played Mike on “All in the Family” and directed some of the best movies of the 1980s and 1990s, including “This is Spinal Tap,” “The Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally…,” “Misery” and “A Few Good Men.”

His grandfather is the great television pioneer Carl Reiner (“Your Show of Shows,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show”), who also had a storied career as film writer, actor and director, often collaborating with Steve Martin on films such as “The Jerk” and “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.”

And you want to be a screenwriter and get into movies? Put a little more pressure on yourself, kid.

The 22-year-old Nick Reiner is the co-writer of “Being Charlie,” and it is based in part on Nick’s battles with addiction that started when he was in his early teens and included long periods of estrangement from his father. Rob Reiner is the director of “Being Charlie,” and based on interviews Rob and Nick have done with each other, working on this film together was a cathartic, bonding process.

All well and fine. Unfortunately, the movie itself navigates well-traveled territory about spoiled, selfish Hollywood youth spiraling into drug addiction while their frustrated, narcissistic parents simmer with rage and resentment over their offspring’s antics. (“Less Than Zero,” anyone?)

Nick Reiner’s onscreen doppelganger in “Being Charlie” is played by Nick Robinson, the kid from “Jurassic World,” and while Robinson is a more than capable young actor, he’s saddled with playing a shallow, scheming, thoroughly dislikable weasel who has no one but himself to blame for his problems and isn’t particularly empathetic whether he’s stoned, sober or supposedly showing some growth.

He’s a little s— is what he is.

Cary Elwes plays Charlie’s father David Mills, the former star of a popular swashbuckling TV franchise (a nice touch, given Elwes’ roles in films such as “The Princess Bride” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”). David is running for governor of California, and while he loves his son and wants his son to get better, he’s also thoroughly ticked off at his kid for mucking up the story line of David’s campaign for governor. How can you paint the campaign ad picture of the perfect California family when your 18-year-old son is throwing a brick through a church window, stealing Oxycontin from a dying old lady and acting up at rehab facilities?

Morgan Saylor from “Homeland” does a nice job as a recovering addict who gets romantically involved with Charlie. Common shows up as a counselor who runs a halfway house for recovering addicts. Devon Bostick gives a fine performance as Adam, Charlie’s best friend and fellow addict.

Bostick’s character, who at least really seems to experience the real highs and lows of addiction, is more interesting than Charlie. A movie about Adam might have been a better movie.

But this is the movie we have, and while we sincerely wish Rob Reiner peace with his son and we hope Nick Reiner stays sober and has a long and wonderful career, “Being Charlie” will probably be better remembered as the vehicle to healing for the family than a movie that made an impact.


Paladin presents a film directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nick Reiner and Matt Elisofon. Running time: 97 minutes. No MPAA rating. Opens Friday at Arclight Cinemas Chicago.

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