The Art of Getting By
Directed by: Gavin Wiesen Cast: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts Running Time: 1 hour 25 min Rating: PG-13 Due Out: November 29, 2011
PLOT: An existential, mopey high school student (Highmore) meets a beautiful girl (Roberts) and starts to show more interest in life.
WHO'S IT FOR? Mopey high school students.
George (Highmore) is intelligent (we know this because he's always reading) and rich (though not as rich as some classmates, so that's supposed to make him relatable) but despite getting the kind of education and chances that many kids dream of, he skips classes, ignores homework, and generally behaves like he's above it all. One day he starts talking to Sally (Roberts), a beautiful girl who's doesn't sound like she's in high school. She has a laissez-faire attitude about men and sexual relationships that you would expect in a Sex and the City character rather than a high school girl. Unfortunately, writer/director Wiesen sees no reason to give her more than two dimensions so we don't know if she's a sexual sociopath or is emotionally damaged, she always seems ridiculously self-possessed.
Besides having two unlikable characters in the lead, the film is saddled by ridiculous dialogue. When finally confessing his love, George says "I love you Sally, I've always loved you." This isn't When Harry Met Sally, he's an 18-year-old boy who's been speaking to a girl for a few months. I could still buy it, despite the weak script if I felt that Highmore and Roberts had chemistry, but they don't. Highmore seems more animated in the making of featurettes than he did at any point during the actual movie. Maybe doing an American accent sapped his ability to act?
Regardless, The Art of Getting By is a story that has been told better, with characters I had to try not to hate, bad dialogue, set in a New York that looks like it's been stolen from other, better shows and movies (the opening scene has George walking by Tom's Diner from Seinfeld and smoking on the same roof gym used in The Royal Tenenbaums) where characters speak what they're thinking instead of acting or feeling.
MOVIE SCORE: 3/10
Fox Movie Channel presents In Character with Freddie Highmore
HBO First Look: The Making of the Art of Getting By
Audio Commentary with Director Gavin Wiesen
New York Slice of Life
On Young Love