Friday, 9 September 2011

REVIEW: The Art Of Getting By

If life is meaningless, then why am I listening to you? I could be doing blow of a prostitue or something

The Art Of Getting By is a relic of a lost time. A time right around the early to mid 2000's, when seemingly all teen movies would be about a sensitive, above it all skinny white boy who is smarter than Galileo, but through the evils of the high school caste system would find his intellectual potency ignored. Usually the movie and the character would abandon all these ideas at the merest hint of boobs, which made the films doubly intolerable because they not only make you sit through poser high-school fatalism, they also totally undercut it by unwillingly pointing out it's illegitimacy. It always plays like such a weak piece of egotist fantasy to me, that even the best movies of the era suffer from it. I think that Anna Kendrick starring Rocket Science, for example, is a terrific movie. But its handicapped by this ideology.

But eventually bullshit was called. The self-doubting, self-pitying Emo began to be a character that was gradually phased out and the high-school movie retreated back into the woodwork, waiting for the next type of social outcast take ownership and revive it. But like last year's Its kind of a funny story, not everyone gets the memo that this kind of film has seen the sun set on its reign. Watching The Art Of Getting By was an incredibly nostalgic experience, these were the teen films of my teens, for better or worse, but its a very muted kind of nostalgia. Its not a terrible movie, none of its ancestors were particularly terrible either, but its irritating until it admits that the thing it tries to sell you on is a crock of shit. I did appreciate that love interest of our central emo Freddie Highmore, was more or less just a normal girl, relatively free of quirk and artificial pep. Emma Roberts, so terrible in Scream 4 earlier this year, actually impressed me here.

The supporting cast is a little suppressed but I liked Michael Angarano, who over a number of performances in the last couple years is proving himself to be a real talent, and I reckon is one great role away from taking off. Similarly, its also great to see Blair Underwood get any kind of role, and it amused me to see Clueless' Alicia Silverstone in a role as a dowdy English teacher. But the main problem is Highmore, the film in many ways seems to revolve around the magnetism of his character and Highmore just seems to like anything resembling a screen presence. I remember back when he was a child actor in Finding Neverland and everyone went batshit for his performance, but I didn't get it then and I don't get it now. Maybe he's just playing the wrong kind of roles but he was just way too flat here.

Ultimately, this film may speak to a few teenagers who can empathize with not wanting to try very hard at school and not getting the incredibly hot girl they want, but to everyone else its just going to look like whining posing as story. Which it is. Again, it's not a terrible film and it can be occasionally charming but it just doesn't have enough about it to justify it's point of view.

Rating: 5/10

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