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The Art of Getting By (A Movie Review)

The Art of Getting By

The Art of Getting By


Starring Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser, Sam Robards, Jarlath Conroy, Ann Dowd, Marcus Carl Franklin, Sasha Spielberg, Rita Wilson, Blair Underwood and Alicia Silverstone.

Screenplay by Gavin Wiesen.

Directed by Gavin Wiesen.

Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.  84 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

This storyline is one that, though not entirely original, holds a lot of potential.  Unfortunately, that potential was never found, or perhaps even searched for.

The Art of Getting By follows a less-than-inspired high school senior George Zinavoy, played by Freddie Highmore, during his last year of high school. Until now George has coasted through life, doing only the amount of work necessary to slink by. However, with graduation quickly approaching George finds himself in a high school limbo – he is forced to make a choice between expulsion and making-up the entire years’ work just weeks before the culmination ceremony.

Because of George’s lack of determination and inspiration towards all aspects of growing up, something he finds menial and meaningless, expulsion seems to be the viable option. However, upon befriending a young classmate named Sally (Emma Roberts), and his very first friend at that, George may now have the ignition needed to spark up an interest in, well, anything.

Just as the plot began to develop, it abruptly ended. The audience expects a climax where something significant changes within the main character George. However, that moment never came.

In the last fifteen minutes of the film there is a lovely five minute montage where George conquers a mountain of homework assignments with haste. But that hardly satisfied the ‘complete turn-around’ moment the audience had been anticipating.

Then there was the lack of development for character relationships. It seemed like there were gaping holes in the story, the holes being scenes that would have explained the jumps made from one point to another.

For example, in the first encounter with George’s step-father, he and George’s mother are very animated and playful. Later on George’s mother announces that she and her husband are separating, and that is has been a long time coming. The point in time that their marriage began to go south was absolutely not apparent in the film, making the announcement of their split a moment of confusion for the audience.

It seemed that Highmore was trying to play a role that was well beyond his maturity level. Every time he smirked I saw the innocent starry-eyed August Rush looking at me through the screen, not a dark and troubled adolescent. However, being that he is just beyond those awkward years of puberty, I’ll let slide.

Actually, it wasn’t the character George that was uninspired, but more so the performance given by Emma Roberts. After her role in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, I expected to the insecurity of that film’s Noelle in tandem with the up-beat spirit of her Nancy Drew to create the character of Sally. This was not at all the case. Instead, it was more of a Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series – in simpler terms, a pretty face reciting lines.

If you want to see this same story with a little more character development, action, humor, plot, delivery… try renting Charlie Bartlett, and let this title sit on the shelf.

Kelly Ratka

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: January 18, 2012.

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