As the singer for '90s nu metal band Limp Bizkit
, Fred Durst claimed he did it "all for the nookie." But to hear him tell it now, all he ever really wanted was to direct. Given Durst's volatile and controversy-rich public persona, his first feature film, The Education of Charlie Banks
, is a surprisingly amiable coming-of-age tale that is especially remarkable for its honesty about class.
As good-natured Charlie Banks, Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale
) provides the film with a shaggy-haired hero who carefully navigates the quads, cafeterias, and libraries of an unnamed Ivy League college in New England. His friendship with the "idle rich" and a budding romance with classy Mary (Eva Amurri) get a jolt when an old neighborhood bully from his East Village childhood shows up in his dorm room.
Mick (Jason Ritter) is handsome and charming, makes easy friends and has a way with women. He also has serious issues with self-control, resulting in violent temper tantrums that all too often end with fractured skulls. In fact, the reasons Mick appears at Charlie's idyllic campus are far from benign. And yet, Charlie's posh group of friends are smitten with the fearless newcomer who sits in on classes and begins to dress like a preppie. Mary falls for his working class charms, and even Charlie, who is hiding his own dangerous secret from Mick, can't entirely resist him.
Durst, working with a screenplay by Peter Elkoff, uncovers a touching connection between shy Charlie and Mick, who is far too aggressive for his own good. For a moment, it seems like the two might have a shot at becoming friends, and Mick's guarded dreams of matriculating at the school don't seem entirely absurd. "It's not like every room is full of geniuses," he laughs. But of course, Charlie's world of privilege will remain unattainable to Mick. Generous empathy with both characters sets The Education of Charlie Banks apart -- something that wasn't necessarily to be expected from someone who once told the audience at Woodstock 1999 to "stick those Birkenstocks up your ass."
The Education of Charlie Banks (2009) Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Christopher Marquette, Sebastian Stan, Eva Amurri
Directed by: Fred Durst
Produced by: Sam Maydew, Peter Elkoff, Marisa Polvino
Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.
Release Date: March 27th, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, some violence, sexual content, and drug and alcohol use.
Distributors: Anchor Bay Entertainment