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