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The Art of Getting By

A movie directed by Gavin Wiesen

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Lacking in depth an aim; this one definitely gets by, if just barely.

  • Dec 30, 2011
** out of ****

It's really a damn shame that Gavin Wiesen's "The Art of Getting By" doesn't end up being anything more than what the basic plot description suggests. The protagonist of the story is George (Freddy Highmore); an intellectual who staggers socially and - in the classroom - academically. His life is a great big mess both at home and at school. He fails to maintain a successful relationship with either his mother or his step-father; while both on and off school-grounds, he lacks proper friends. But then again, he doesn't care; because he sees no point in living. We're all going to die someday; this is all a big nothing. That's essential his life philosophy; and oh, he'll stick with it.

This is a film of many wrongs; and the hero is one of them. Sure, we've all felt like George before; and given this, Wiesen expects us to relate to the character. However, he has miscalculated his own movie; for the character writing here is so terribly off. George proclaims that he is allergic to homework; but very much drawn to art, philosophy, and literature. Simply put, he does what interests him; and only that. So if something at school bores him to death, he's not going to do it.

With that being said, I think it's clear that he isn't a very likable protagonist. Still, Wiesen has a story to tell; and in under 90-minutes, no less. So he creates this big ol' cliché teen love story to throw into the mix; and it takes up a lot of the film. Maybe this is a good thing, because I'd rather watch George fall in love for the first time than listen to the pretentious bastard speak for any longer than a minute.

The girl is Sally (Emma Roberts). She goes to school with George, and has for some time now, although they're just beginning to notice each-other. Sally sees something in him; and he's just happy to have someone give a damn about his existence, because he certainly doesn't care much about it himself. Both New York City residents; the two central characters go on dates, go to parties, have sleepovers, and experience new things along the way.

I suppose "The Art of Getting By" is - to put it frankly but vaguely - a film all about experiences. We all have them; and we almost always value them, good or bad. The film takes us through the times both good and bad, for this character, although Wiesen - who also wrote the script - lacks the writer's craft; which would have allowed him the skill and artistry to write a decent script for a suitably decent film. "The Art of Getting By" lacks depth and aim; I don't know where the inspiration to write this script came from, but it can't be anywhere particularly good.

Nevertheless, the film still ends up being watchable, at best. Passable escapism it is; although some might disagree, given that many have written it off completely. This is understandable and all -since this is so very far from a good film - but I had some sympathy for the material in spite of its uneven and unpolished nature. Wiesen shows promise as a filmmaker, and the film makes use of its New York setting (for the most part). But until he can come up with a script that works; this might just be what we're supposed to expect out of him in the near future. Let's hope I'm wrong.

This film was probably intended for an intellectual audience that can possibly connect with its eccentric protagonist; although I wonder how many movie-goers will feel exactly how he does, in the end. Do most people choose to be cynical assholes? Do most people disconnect themselves from the social scene of High School like George does? Wiesen definitely has some good ideas going; but the film lacks execution and therefore gives us very little to actually talk about. "The Art of Getting By" just barely masters the second part of its title.

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January 01, 2012
wasn't this a remake of something? I wanted to see this, but I dunno now, Maybe I'll have to wait for it to play for free on HBO. I don't think it is for me, but hey, I am pretty eccentric LOL! Happy New Year!
More The Art of Getting By reviews
review by . June 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Characters in the depths of depression are iffy for me, especially when they’re teenagers. Sometimes, I’m able to empathize with them, to feel their pain, to understand why they feel alienated and misunderstood. At other times, they seem like little more than constructs of the stories they happen to be a part of – in other words, characters who have legitimate problems blown out of proportion for the sake of forcing an emotional …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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