“The toughest lesson is love.”
George (Freddie Highmore, Toast) and Sally (Emma Roberts, Scream 4) are seniors in high school. He’s a slacker who has done nothing the entire year and yet still remains an enrolled student. (Don’t bother asking why, it’s never explained.) She’s a popular girl who notices George when he gets her out of trouble. Sally takes him under her wing and introduces him to her life as a rich, spoiled partier. In turn, he introduces her to a would-be artist who forms the third leg of the requisite love triangle.
The Art of Getting By would love for you to think George and Sally simply don’t know how the other one feels and thus their remaining choices are based on faulty intel. But the fault lies with selfish characters. Sally doesn’t care about hurting George, as she prematurely places him in the “friend zone,” and George doesn’t care enough about anything to risk a romance with Sally. The few unselfish people who navigate the film are relegated to the background, an unfortunate choice which results in a decidedly unbalanced feeling.
The main fault with The Art of Getting By is that the filmmakers were so concerned with getting specific shots of NYC they let everything else fall by the wayside, believing the beauty of their visuals would help disguise problems like wasted talent. In addition, the movie builds to an unexpected ending, one I wish they would have stuck with instead of changing to a more predictable one; it could have redeemed the whole experience.
Presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, the shots of the city are beautiful and the standard definition image definitely does them justice. I was particularly pleased with the color palette, as the shades of twilight and midnight never obscure anything relevant. The Dolby 5.1 audio balances well with no outliers in either extreme; neither blowing out nor disappearing.
Bonus features are short and disposable. The featurettes don’t add anything and the trailer is superfluous. I’d also skip the commentary track, as the interviews sum up the director’s vision and clock in at less than ten minutes.
Go ahead and pass on The Art of Getting By. Both of the leads have made better movies.