THE ART OF GETTING BY
** SPOILERS **
The Art of Getting By stars Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew), and Michael Anagrano (Sky High). There is the palpable sense of young actors grasping for (slightly) "edgier, indy" material to break from their prior high-profile Hollywood roles. The appeal of shooting The Art of Getting By almost-verite style in New York City must have been appealing. Taller and older than he was when he and Willy Wonka were candy-coated buds, Highmore plays a bright but fatalistic slacker enrolled in an Upper West Side charter school. A "sensitive artiste", one of his classmates calls him. His dilemma is that he's lazy; in all things, from his schoolwork to following through on his growing infatuation with the prettiest girl in school, Emma Roberts (who was also the prettiest girl in the mental ward in It's Kind of a Funny Story). "I'm allergic to my hormones," Highmore tells Roberts. Uh huh. Half the cast practically nudges Highmore with their elbows towards Roberts. In one of the film's multitude of uncertain, lurching moments, when Roberts asks Highmore to have sex, his response is no response, and hers in kind is flippant cruelty. This is followed by Roberts, out of her depth but trying so hard to play complicated and conflicted, "seducing" Anagrano for a pairing that has even less heat than Roberts has with Highmore. Adult actors like Blair Underwood as his principal and Alicia Silverstone as his English teacher try to inject some life and motivation into Highmore, to no avail until the final moments, when Highmore's entire high school career is in jeopardy. Highmore being a slacker is the point of the story, yet Highmore and The Art of Getting By only draw enervation from each other.