SYNOPSIS: Fatalistic teenager George Zinavoy is a master at just barely getting by. In fact, he's practically turned it into an art form; making it through the entire school year without doing a shred of work. But when George meets a beautiful and complicated girl named Sally, he discovers a kindred spirit who turns his slacker world upside down. Their quirky and unexpected romance may just inspire George to do the unthinkable - get off his butt and chase after his dreams.

It’s really nice to see them grow up, isn’t it? It wasn’t too long ago when we remember Freddie Highmore playing that adorable wide eyed boy opposite Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet in Finding Neverland (2004) and of course, Charlie Bucket who finds a golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). Now the 19 year old is all grown up, and taking on angst ridden teenager roles. In this Gavin Wiesen directed production, you get to see a different side of Highmore.

The London born actor plays George, a lonely and fatalistic teen who has somehow made it all the way to his senior year in school without ever having done a real day of work (we tried with our ever evolving education system here, but ended up being reprimanded instead). Thanks to what they call fate, he makes a friend in a girl named Sally (Emma Roberts, better known as Julia Roberts’ niece), who is popular in school, but hides a complicated side which very few people see. Before George knows it, Sally begins changing his life.

We have seen this sort of film before, where a lonely soul’s life is rekindled by an unlikely companion. Different personalities often draw people from different worlds together – at least that’s what happens in movies, anyway. Here, these two individuals are nicely portrayed by Highmore and Roberts, two talented young actors of this generation. While they are bogged down by a meandering screenplay which doesn’t offer much in the creative department, they manage to engage with their natural chemistry and likeable on screen presence.

Complementing the Highmore and Roberts are other actors like Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser and Sam Robards who may not be your A listers, but do a decent job at playing their roles as a charismatic artist, a quirky mother and an uncaring stepfather respectively. You may also spot Alicia Silverstone and Rita Wilson in the ensemble piece.

Wiesen’s efforts in attempting to make this film an eccentrically unique can be felt, but the result is far from what the script’s potential offers. Through predictably mundane plot developments, viewers are brought through yet another somewhat inconsequential romance. The 84 minute film was an official selection at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, but only had a limited release in the States. It is a film which does not have enough character to draw the crowds, and it is probably due to that reason why distributors did not lap this up.  


This Code 3 DVD contains six promotional interstitials New York Slice of Life, On Young Love, The Art of Being Shy, The Art of Ditching School, The Art of First Love and The Art of Being a Misanthrope (each running at two to three minutes) where Highmore and Roberts talk about what they feel about the different themes explored in the film. Short, sweet and snappy, these clips are as likeable as the stars. HBO First Look – The Making of The Art of Getting By is a more in depth look at the production process of the film. The platter is rounded up by the film’s Theatrical Trailer


The visual transfer of the movie is fine, and is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.




Review by John Li