In this May 2, 2016 photo, writer-director Rob Reiner poses for a portrait in New York. Reiner has always had an affinity for the father-son story and has explored the theme and his own life in films like Stand By Me and A Few Good Men, but none have come so close as Being Charlie, loosely based on his son Nick Reiners struggles with drugs. (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

Stephen Holden The New York Times

Being Charlie has a strong autobiographical component. According to the production notes, Nick Reiner (the directors son) wrote the screenplay with Matt Elisofon, whom he met in rehab. Charlie, like Elisofon, is an aspiring stand-up comedian. And the brief scenes of Charlie on the stage reveal him to be a brash showoff with at least a modicum of talent.

Lets assume that Rob Reiner made a movie peopled with disagreeable characters to transcend the feel-good clichs of the nostalgic family entertainments for which hes known with a more realistic film about contemporary issues. But the movies refusal to abandon commercial formulas and examine its characters inner lives suggests that the directors years inside the Hollywood bubble may have prevented him from recognizing the degree to which independent films and television are already overrun with deeper, more sensitive explorations of addiction and recovery.

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