The Art of Getting By
by M. Faust
Were I to suggest that the only reason director Gavin Wiesen found roles for Steven Spielberg’s daughter and Tom Hanks’ wife in The Art of Getting By was to make sure that those Hollywood movers and shakers saw this, his debut film, you might accuse me of being overly cynical. But you haven’t seen this movie, a contrived regurgitation of coming-of-age stories with barely a plausible moment in its brief running time.
Freddie Highmore stars as George, student at a Manhattan prep school. Intelligent but unmotivated, he has gone through most of his senior year without turning in a single assignment. His attention is finally captured by a meet-cute with Sally (Emma Roberts), a popular girl who is as outgoing as he is introverted. From that beginning, the plot proceeds in so banal a way that any attempt to type a description puts my fingers to sleep.
Of course there are forgettable movies in this genre by the score. What makes this one (titled Homework when it played at Sundance, a festival that has long lost its position as an arbiter of the indie scene) so insufferable is its utter failure to create empathetic characters and to connect with viewers. These are Manhattan children of privilege, who smoke, drink in bars, and refer to their parents by their first names, Bret Easton Ellis characters offered as if this were a John Hughes movie. George is meant (I suppose) to be a sensitive soul, but his “rebellion” is nothing more than the (in)action of a lazy, thoughtless little jerk. (The revelation of his family’s financial problems makes him even less sympathetic.) Bathed in a trendy indie pop soundtrack, it’s so soulless and calculated that I wouldn’t be surprised if Wiesen does get his next movie backed by Spielberg.
Watch the trailer for The Art of Getting By
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