Review: The Art of Getting By

June 19, 2011 at 12:30 am 2 comments

A few months ago I saw the unspeakably bad Battle: Los Angeles.  At the time, I didn’t think it was possible to find a more irritating group of characters on film.  I was wrong.  The Art of Getting By features a cast of characters so unlikable that I was tempted to walk out of the theatre, something I have done only once in my life (damn you, Armageddon!).  Written and directed by Gavin Wiesen, TAoGB brings navel gazing to an abysmal low.

George Zinavoy (Freddie Highmore) is a privileged Upper East Side teen who floats through life not committing to or caring about anything.  When we first see him, he sits alone in the school cafeteria reading Camus (because, you know, he’s, like, deep).  In voice over, George misquotes Orson Welles by saying, “We’re born alone.  We die alone.  Everything in between is illusion.”  Because of this, George has detached from life and, as a result, become a slacker extraordinaire.  (Is this part of the 90s revival?)  Really, George, a quick search on ThinkExist would have given you better insight:

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”

So this Holden Caulfield wannabe decides that everything most regular teens do without question simply are exercises in futility. That means no homework, no social activities, no engagement of any kind.  And I could actually appreciate a protagonist with this philosophy, except I found Highmore unbearably smug throughout the film.  (Maybe it’s because the Brit actor, so charming in other films, is saddled by his American accent.)  To make matters worse, everyone who surrounds George–parents, teachers, classmates–indulges him because, I assume, they think he is an untapped genius.  But let’s face it: Most teens who get into trouble or act out do so because they are a-holes, not prodigies.

The supporting cast mostly is made up of performers famous for having more famous family members: Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia), Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks’ wife), and Sasha Spielberg, who delivers the most obnoxious performance of the year.  I would love to see everyone turn their inexplicable hatred of Rumer Willis toward Sasha Speilberg.  There is no way that girl would have a career if her dad weren’t the world’s biggest director.

It’s rare that I say I hate a film.  But as I write this review, I am reminded just how strongly I reacted to its self-absorption.  If you want to see a more enjoyable film about an over-privileged Manhattan teen whose struggles with existential crises are made more bearable by Emma Roberts, please rent the far superior It’s Kind of a Funny Story.  I promise, you will thank me.


Entry filed under: Movies. Tags: , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aimee Hepler  |  June 20, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Whoa…I had free passes to that…glad I didn’t use them!

  • 2. Samantha  |  June 28, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Wow! I was thinking of seeing this, but your informative review has made me rethink. Great review…I want to see more : )


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