The Art of Getting By

aogbThe Art of Getting By (2011)

Written & Directed By: Gavin Wiesen

Also Reviewed By: M. Brown at Two Dollar Cinema

My Rating: 2.5/5

Back in the dark ages, I was a high school senior, drifting through life and aggressively lazy. I fancied myself a rebel, but truthfully, I managed to skate just close enough to the line to avoid getting into real trouble or completely blowing my chances of getting into college. Because I’d delivered newspapers and served burgers on plastic trays to earn a paycheck, and I knew what that was like. I blew off homework and skipped school. Why did I skip school? Usually to go to the library and read novels. Seriously. I am kind of a nerd.


Given my history, I figured I’d relate to the character of George Zinavoy (Freddie Highmore), a quirky teen who’s managed to coast to his senior year without even the pretense of making any effort. And I could … a little. Except that I didn’t go to a super-pricey private school with a cool, sexy principal played by Blair Underwood. But unfortunately, I didn’t find the story or characters compelling, and this film was further weighed down by underwhelming performances by the two leads.

George is dodging all his assignments, camouflaging his laziness and indifference under a cloak of existential angst. We live alone, and someday we’re all going to die … alone. So what’s the point of doing your Trigonometry homework? George is obviously bright, and he’s a gifted artist. His teachers and principal take a deep interest in him. But eventually they’ve cut him as much slack as they can, and he’s in danger of not graduating.

Meanwhile he wins the friendship of cool, adorable Sally Howe (Emma Roberts). They are clearly attracted to each other, but George is as non-committal about his feelings for Sally as he is about everything else. I leave you to guess what happens.

My daughter actively disliked George; she called him “entitled little shit” interchangeably with “entitled little prick.” But I liked him well enough. I remember being adrift and, at times, insufferably obnoxious as a teen. However the story and characters never moved forward in a way that made it work. Yes, George had a family problem. And yes, he made a decision about graduation. But he never experienced any real consequences, and his metamorphosis — such as it was — felt wholly superficial.

The characters and story felt wafer-thin, and I was not impressed by the performances by Highmore and Roberts. In a nutshell, this film never really scratched the surface of its story; instead it settled for being a cute, conventional coming-of-age flick.

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