Freddie Highmore, the gorgeous and very talented child actor from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and August Rush, is all grown up and takes the lead in the coming of age, teen drama/romantic comedy The Art of Getting By.
Highmore is George, a lonely and pessimistic teen who does not see the point of life, school or homework. As a result, he has made it all the way to his final year of High School without doing any work, and not really connecting with any of his peers. He is in danger of not graduating. However, when Sally (Emma Roberts), the popular and pretty girl, who can be just as complicated as him, befriends him, things start to change. He is a little more excited about being 17. Will George and Sally ever be more than just friends and will George finally stop meandering through life?
The Art of Getting By is a sweet film from first time writer/director Gavin Wiesen. Its premise of being at the end of high school, not knowing what lies ahead and what the point of it all is, as well as experiencing first love, is something that people from all generations can relate to – whether you’re a teen who is currently going through this; or a teen/pre-teen anticipating going through this in the near future; or well past your teens and looking back at this time of life with fondness/dread.
As much as we can all relate to this film on some level, there’s a spark missing. It is well acted and shot beautifully (New York never fails to look amazing on screen), however at times it feels too forced. The film is trying too hard to be an indie teen drama. It wants to be the next Juno, resulting in the interesting start turning into a series of ‘indie wannabe’ clichés to bring it home.
The other problem is that the audience is supposed to care about what happens to George, however he is not a very endearing character. You just want to slap him about the head a few times and tell him to get over it! There is also a lack of chemistry between Highmore and Roberts.
A positive is that the supporting cast is made up of actors that we haven’t seen on the big screen in a while, the likes of Alicia Silverstone, Blair Underwood and Rita Wilson. Also, there are some good subtle thinking points coming from this film. My two favourites “Look in the mirror and find something you’ve never had the courage to say before. Find something you care about, what you believe!” and “Happiness is something you have to look after, be vigilant about.”
The Art of Getting By is a film that teens will love. Everyone outside of this bracket may find it an enjoyable and pleasant experience but at the same time be a little frustrated, as it could have been so much more.