Charlie from the chocolate factory falls in love with Nancy Drew but is too much of a pussy to admit it in the uninspired romantic drama The Art of Getting By, which is now on DVD for those interested in watching an indie-like movie that looks and feels like dozens of other indie-like movies.
The Art of Getting By is written and directed by first-timer Gavin Wiesen, who seems to have gone out of his way to study dozens of indie dramas and make a movie just like them. The movie is well written and finely directed, but wholly unremarkable in every way possible.
Freddie Highmore stars as George, a teenager who has managed to make his way through high school without every doing any real work. With a disregard for doing what others tell him to do - like homework - George faces the prospect of failing in his senior year. But after being befriended by popular and beautiful Sally (Emma Roberts), he finally begins to branch out.
It's a cute story but a quaint one. It's entertaining and believable enough, yet so basic and ultimately unimaginative it's hard to discern what Wiesen intended with it. How many times over the last ten years has a movie just like this, about a quiet boy falling in love with a pretty girl, come to theaters? How many stand out from the pack?
In all fairness, Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts are fine in their respective roles. Despite still looking like a 12-year-old, Highmore is the right choice for role. He looks the part and plays it with sincerity, even if his character is frustratingly unassertive at times. Emma Roberts also does a good job of portraying a popular-but-quirky teenager. Both have been better in other movies, but the casting is inspired.
The rest of the movie just isn't.
The Art of Getting By won't be remembered in a year's time. It isn't bad, but it isn't great, and nothing in the story stands out as unique. In many ways the movie lives up to its title, adequately enjoyable to watch but merely getting by when it comes to originality.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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