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Fatalistic teenager George Zingavoy (Freddie Highmore) 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 (Emma Roberts), 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.
A gloomy teenage boy grapples with painting and romance in The Art of Getting By. George (Freddie Highmore, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is the sort of loner who reads Camus in the school cafeteria; obsessed with his eventual death, he declines to do any schoolwork, preferring to sketch across his textbooks. But when he helps Sally (Emma Roberts, Scream 4) evade trouble, the two strike up a friendship that threatens to push George out of his nihilistic cocoon. The Art of Getting By is a lot like other coming-of-age-in-the-city stories, from The Catcher in the Rye to Igby Goes Down, which isn't a bad thing--teen angst is perennial and sullen youths are endlessly photogenic. But the confusion and betrayed cynicism of the script is at odds with the fresh-faced cast: Highmore and Roberts look like they should be running through fields of daisies, not smoking cigarettes amid urban decay; both seem profoundly well-adjusted. The supporting cast, including Alicia Silverstone as a teacher and Blair Underwood as the school principal, give the story some emotional grounding. Their concern about George graduating carries more emotional weight than George's morbid musings. --Bret Fetzer