Take every awful indie coming-of-age movie cliché, cram it into one film, fill it with terrible dialogue and bored-looking actors and you are starting to approach the disaster that is Gavin Wisen’s Homework. If someone were making a parody of the modern art-house coming-of-age film, this would be it. Despite a relatively-short 84 minute runtime, Homework is an interminable slog as we’re forced to suffer yet another movie about a privileged teenage who’s life is so perfect that he’s forced to conjure his own misfortune.
George (Freddie Highmore) is a slacker that has come upon a wacky reason not to do his homework: fatalism. Since he’s going to die anyway, his trigonometry assignments don’t seem that important. Why is he so depressed? Does he come from a broken homelife? Not really. He lives in a nice brownstone in New York City, but his stepfather is kind of a jerk. Does he have some dark secret in his past? Who knows. He was birthed into this world arty and misunderstood. He was also blessed with eye-rollingly bad dialogue such as:
“I’m afraid of life.”
“I’m a misanthrope, but not by choice.”
“I’m allergic to hormones.”
“I’m in love with you. I always have been.”
Highmore doesn’t have a prayer of convincingly spouting lines like these, and he deserves credit for not wincing while he said them.
While George is busy doodling and being uninteresting, he begins a friendship with Sally (Emma Roberts), but starts to fall for her because she’s pretty and…she’s pretty. I would call her character paper-thin but that’s insult to the thickness of paper and the fine people who make it. George also begins a relationship with Dustin, a professional artist (Michael Angarano). Their “relationship” consists of two scenes where Dustin gives George advice.
Homework could exist as a scathing parody of the indie coming-of-age film, but instead it serves as a laundry list of the worst qualities the genre has to offer. It takes over an hour for the film to find a real conflict for George, and by that point we’re too far gone to care. Wisen gives his debut feature no voice, no personality, and no reason to exist.
For all of our coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, click here. Also, here are links to all of my Sundance reviews so far:
The Art of Getting By is a 2011 American romanticcomedy-drama film starring Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser, Sam Robards, Rita Wilson and Blair Underwood. It is the first feature by writer-director Gavin Wiesen. The film premiered under the title Homework at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
George (Freddie Highmore) is a loner high school student with a penchant for drawing and skipping class. He has a nihilistic view of the world which is why he never does homework and skips school frequently. His academic delinquency puts him on academic probation. One day while on the school roof he encounters another classmate, Sally (Emma Roberts), smoking. When a teacher appears, George pulls out a cigarette and takes the fall for Sally. The two become friends. On career day, George meets a young artist, Dustin (Michael Angarano), and finds him inspiring. He brings Sally with him to visit Dustin at his studio in Brooklyn and it becomes apparent that Dustin finds Sally attractive. Sally invites George to a New Year's Eve party. At the party, she dances with an ex-boyfriend and George gets drunk, goes outside, throws up, and falls asleep in an alley. Sally finds him there and takes him to her place, putting him to bed on a pull-out next to her bed. They grow close and George gets more involved in school.
On Valentine's Day, the two go out to dinner and Sally starts asking questions what he thinks of her. George is evasive, and she asks him if he'll have sex with her. George freezes. Sally backtracks and claims she was kidding. He remains withdrawn and begs off early. He refuses to take Sally's calls and avoids her. One day Sally runs into Dustin in the street and after a while the two of them start a relationship. George who is troubled by this stops doing homework and is again sent to the principal's office. The principal gives George two choices: he can be expelled, or he can make up all of the homework he has missed all year. George is confronted by his mother and stepfather at home, and he responds by telling his mother that his stepfather has been lying about work. The stepfather attacks him and George knocks him down before taking off. He goes to Sally's place and, in the hallway, he kisses her. Sally kisses back but breaks away as Dustin is there in her apartment. Angry and hurt, George leaves.
The next morning, George finds his mother in the park. She tells him she's divorcing George's stepfather. George consoles her and begins to rethink his situation with Sally. At school he decides to make up for his assignments and collects them. His art teacher tells him he wants only one project, but that it must be honest and real. George works on his assignments and takes his final exams. Meanwhile Sally continues seeing Dustin. One day George gets a message from Sally. They meet in a bar and Sally tells him she's going backpacking with Dustin through Europe and skipping graduation. George tells her he loves her and they go back to her apartment, where they kiss. Sally tells him that she loves him too and promises they'll be together one day. George turns in all his assignments and the principal tells him he'll know he's passed if his name is called at graduation. George's art teacher applauds him on his project. George sits at the graduation ceremony with Sally's friends with his mother in the audience. Sally is at the airport with Dustin. George's name is called and his mother applauds. Afterwards George is in the art classroom looking at his art project. It is a portrait of Sally. Sally walks in and joins him looking at the painting as the film closes.
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The film finished shooting in New York City on April 23, 2010.
The music from the film was released by Rhino Records on June 14 as a CD soundtrack with 12 tracks.
- Track Listing
- "We Will Become Silhouettes" - The Shins
- "We Drink on the Job" - Earlimart
- "Sally's Theme" - Alec Puro
- "Sleep The Clock Around" - Mates of State
- "This Momentary" - Delphic
- "Christmas Break" - Alec Puro
- "Winter Lady" - Leonard Cohen
- "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
- "Sally's Bedroom" - Alec Puro
- "Spitting Fire" - The Boxer Rebellion
- "Here" - Pavement
- "The Trial of the Century" - French Kicks
The film had its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2011. The movie was released on Blu-ray Disc on November 29, 2011.
The Art of Getting By grossed $1.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $0.6 million in other territories, for a total of $2 million, against a production budget of $4 million.
Film review aggregatorRotten Tomatoes reported that 18% of the 110 sampled critics gave the film positive reviews and that it got an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's consensus states: "A sitcom-level twee mess that bakes in the typical manic pixie dream girl and boring, withdrawn boy hero." At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received a score of 36% based on 28 reviews, which indicates "generally unfavorable reviews". The film was criticized as being "a typical coming of age drama." Critics also targeted the writing, though actor Freddie Highmore and his co-star Emma Roberts were both praised for their performances. Edward Douglas of ComingSoon.net noted, "A New York City boy-meets-girl story may be something we've seen many times before... but Wiesen brings something unique to the mix."
Awards and accolades
- ^ abcde"The Art of Getting By (2011)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- ^Cox, Gordon (April 21, 2010). "Roberts, Highmore assigned 'Homework'". Variety. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
- ^"Gavin Wiesen - Director. Writer". IMDb. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- ^ ab"Sundance Film Festival 2011: Homework". Sundance.Slated.com. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- ^"The movie poster with the original title". IMDb. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
- ^Another movie poster with the original title. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
- ^White, James (April 22, 2010). "Freddie Highmore Has Homework". Empire. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- ^"The Art of Getting By' Soundtrack Details". Filmmusicreporter.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- ^The Art of Getting By at Discogs.
- ^"Release dates". IMDb. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- ^"The Art of Getting By (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
- ^"The Art of Getting By Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
- ^Douglas, Edward (June 2011). "The Art of Getting By review". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline. Archived from the original on December 11, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- ^"2011 Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in Competition". sundance.org. December 1, 2010. Archived from the original on February 2, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
- ^"Teen Choice Awards 2011 Nominees Announced: Harry Potter vs Twilight". HuffPost. August 29, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2018.