The Art Of Getting By
June 17, 2011
Fox Searchlight Pictures
1 hour 23 minutes
Predictable, short, and unoriginal. These are only a few of the words to describe The Art Of Getting By. The Art Of Getting By premiered at Sundance 2011 under the name 'Homework,' later being picked up by 20th Century Fox's indie company Fox Searchlight Pictures. You would expect from a premiere at Sundance and a distribution deal from the company who brought us 'Slumdog Millionaire,' 'Napoleon Dynamite,' and 'Juno' would be a surefire tour de force, right? Unfortunately, you're wrong. This movie is far from being terrible, like how it seems I'm saying it to be. However, this movie's not terrific either. They get the whole "I have no idea what the hell I want to do in the future" concept right, and the chemistry is good between the two leads. However there are many problems I had, including lack of originality and predictability. Despite the many flaws this movie had, coming especially from an admirer of the Sundance Film Festival and Fox Searchlight Pictures, the chemistry between the two leads, the light humor that comes from the characters, and the realistic life question "What am I supposed to do with my life?," make me like 'The Art of Getting By' just enough for me to recommend it.
The story goes like this: lonely senior boy meets eccentric senior girl, and girl helps boy see better side of life. Nothing new or original, but satisfying enough for what the movie was. Just to get it over with, allow me to explain my problems with the movie. The first one is a combination of the running time and the pacing of the movie. How can you make a teen dramedy only 83 minutes and just keep jumping through time every 10 minutes? I don't know what the director was thinking, but all I know is that I got lost a bit at one point in the movie. One minute you're at a party on New Year's Eve, the next minute you're at a dinner on Valentines Day without any explanation on where we are in time. The movie shows the course of about six months in 83 minutes. However I must say that this movie didn't feel as short as Beastly, which squeezed an entire year into a short 86 minutes. That movie also jumped around the timeline in a matter of minutes, much more than this movie did. The short running time and quick pacing of the movie only took away from my experience.
Wouldn't we all like to see something original, rather than it being based off of already existing source material? The romantic aspect of this movie is the same one we've been watching on the big screen for nearly two decades. In every love story, there will always be the loving phase, then the break-up phase, and the let's get back together phase. That's the basic formula in every 21st century romantic dramedy. Then there's always that terrible "running through the airport" scene at the end that is so overdone. Luckily, this movie doesn't exactly have that airport sequence. But we can all agree that romantic movies lack any kind of originality whatsoever. When can we get a romantic dramedy as good as the ones in the 90s, like Sleepless in Seattle or Almost Famous? Luckily, this movie does have a bit of originality put into it. The only original and refreshing thing in this movie is Freddie Highmore's character, George.
Freddie Highmore is a natural as George. He plays a character who is socially awkward and doesn't give a crap on what may be in store for his future. The character barely shows any emotion, which is why I love the character. He's not afraid to be his own person, and it never seems that he's asking for any kind of friendship. In my opinion, he is a combination of the male protagonists from both Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Napoleon Dynamite. I believe that this character can relate to the two male leads in each movie because they are both outside of the usual teen boundary, not swearing all of the time and are not in any cliques at school. They just do their own things, and most of the time they can accept that. I liked Emma Roberts, the niece of Julia Roberts, in this movie. She plays a typical teenage girl, where you don't quite know exactly know what they're thinking at that particular moment. For being in a middle school filled with girls like Emma Roberts in this movie, you understand what their deal is. The movie also had a strong supporting cast, including Rita Wilson and Blair Underwood, who are quite good in this movie. They may have to work with an uninspired script, but for what it's worth they acted very well. The casting was probably the best thing the movie had to offer.
So the movie was uninspired, incredibly predictable, and sometimes a bit mediocre. However, the movie is saved by the casting, a sweet chemistry between the two leads, and the universal question that every teen has to ask: What the hell am I doing for my future? This is the story about a kid who doesn't know what he's going to do, so all he can do is slack around and do absolutely nothing. Although it's not good at all, kids in the real world are like Freddie Highmore, George in this movie. This movie shows what can happen if you let yourself go and find someone to call a friend, possibly something more than that. If you like someone as George likes Sally, Emma Roberts in this movie, go for her before someone else does. Unfortunately George suffers this fate about halfway into this movie, but this is a romance so we all know what's going to happen in the end. Even so, we all can't help but get a big chuckle about even the slightest erection joke in your average movie. It worked in Austin Powers, and it also works well here.
So is this movie a must see? No. Is this the movie that I would choose on a weekend to see with all of my friends? No. However, is it a good 83 minutes well spent? Yes. This isn't something to rush out to go see, but it's a nice movie for what it is. I doubt that you will crown this as the greatest movie of 2011, but it's just a sweet, sometimes sad and real movie with some quirky moments and a nice romance between the two leads. If there's nothing else out in theaters or on DVD and you just want to watch something, then out of the many choices, I would definitely choose to watch this one again. What are you going to do for your future? Are you going to slack off for the rest of your life, or are you just going to live?