The Art of Getting By (2011)

Greg Says: For a Sundance/Indie film, it was typical Hollywood fare

Title: The Art of Getting By (2011)
Rating: 5/10
Date: 22 June 2011
Recommendation: Don’t Waste Your Time
Helpful: 14 out of 21 found this helpful.

“The Art of Getting By” is a coming-of-age story about a young man, George Zinavoy (Freddie Highmore) who is obsessed with non-existence. He reasons that if we’re all going to die then what is the point? He neglects his studies and is only interested in his art. Then he meets a pretty girl, Sally Howe (Emma Roberts), and he begins to see things in a different light. Things start to get complicated when he meets a mentor artist (Michael Angarano) who is also interested in the girl. George is encouraged by the principal of his school (Blaire Underwood) and his mother (Rita Wilson) and step-father (Sam Robards).

If this all sounds very trite and two-dimensional, it is. We’ve seen this story a hundred times (fifty of them on Lifetime). There is nothing new in this movie. We know what is going to happen almost from the beginning. The boy’s turnaround from brooding teen to determined young man is confusing and inexplicable.

George is extremely cute and very, very polite. It is hard to believe he is coping with any sort of dark feeling. At one point he even apologizes for being rude and antagonistic. If that’s the case, it wasn’t presented on the screen. I think the producers saw Freddie Highmore as a teenage role-model/heartthrob and cleaned him up for presentation. There is a scene where he is caught smoking, but the cigarette is never lit. He apparently goes out drinking, but we never see liquor touch his lips. He never emotes a single negative emotion – except when his heart is broken. Then we get some very believable waterworks. Oh, and by the way, the characters are supposed to be 18 years old, but they are served beer in taverns. Strange.

I went to see this film because it won a Sundance award for best director. I expect something unusual, non-Hollywood when I see a Sundance award winner (remember “Juno”?). This movie was so on-the-spot with its plot points I was able to set my watch by it. (Clichés anyone?)

Emma Roberts (niece to Julia Roberts) was fine in her role. She looked like something out of 90210 or Dawson’s Creek (am I dating myself?). The sidekick friends were also very cookie-cutter (Sasha Spielberg, daughter of Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw put in an average performance).

There is really no good reason to see this movie unless you are filled with teen-age angst. Even then it will only make you want to go home and puke. TMI?