The Art of Getting By

The Art of Getting By Information

The Art of Getting By is a 2011 romantic comedy-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 fatalistic high school senior who is a gifted artist. He ceases to complete his homework, as he feels that everything seems meaningless. As a result, he is put on academic probation. The next day, George goes up to the school roof and sees Sally (Emma Roberts) smoking. When a teacher comes up, George quickly pulls out a cigarette and takes the blame. Sally meets George to thank him, and though George is at first reluctant to talk to her, he soon warms up to her. On Career Day, George meets a young artist, Dustin, and is inspired by his thoughts about life. He brings Sally with him to visit Dustin and it becomes apparent that Dustin likes Sally. Sally invites George to a New Years Eve party. At the party, she dances with her ex, while George gets drunk, puking outside before falling asleep in the alley. Sally finds him there and apologizes.

For Valentine's Day, the two go out to dinner and Sally asks him to have sex with her. George, clearly shocked, doesn't answer. After his pause, Sally says they shouldn't as he is her only real friend. He is quiet for the rest of the time they're together and goes home early. He doesn't answer Sally's calls or talk with her at all. Sally instead invites Dustin out and flirts with him. The two of them start going on dates after Dustin kisses her. George doesn't do his English term paper and is brought to the principal's office. The principal gives George two choices: expulsion or do every piece of undone homework for the year. At home, George confronts his stepfather about lying about work, and they get into a physical fight. George takes off for Sally's place. She brings him into the hallway, where he kisses her. Sally kisses back but breaks it, revealing Dustin in her apartment. Angry and hurt, George leaves.

The next morning, George finds his mother at the park. She explains that his stepfather lied to her about work and that they're divorcing. George consoles her and begins to rethink his situation with Sally. At school, he gets each of his missing assignments to complete. His one art project is to make a painting that is honest and real. George completes the assignments and takes final exams, while Sally continues being with Dustin. Sally and George meet in a bar, where Sally reveals she's going backpacking with Dustin through Europe, and is skipping the high school graduation ceremony. George tells her he loves her and they go back to her apartment, where they kiss. Sally admits she loves him as well, promising that they will be together one day. George triumphantly turns in all his assignments and his art teacher applauds him on his art project. At the ceremony, George's name is called and his mom is shown to be proud of him. George goes back to the art classroom and looks at his art project: Sally's smiling face. Sally, having opted not to go to Europe with Dustin, enters the room and looks at the painting with George and the film closes.



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
  1. "We Will Become Silhouettes" - The Shins
  2. "We Drink on the Job" - Earlimart
  3. "Sally's Theme" - Alec Puro
  4. "Sleep The Clock Around" - Mates of State
  5. "This Momentary" - Delphic
  6. "Christmas Break" - Alec Puro
  7. "Winter Lady" - Leonard Cohen
  8. "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  9. "Sally's Bedroom" - Alec Puro
  10. "Spitting Fire" - The Boxer Rebellion
  11. "Here" - Pavement
  12. "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 received mixed to negative reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 36, based on 28 reviews, which indicates "Generally negative reviews", and a user score of 5.9/10 which indicates "Mixed or average reviews". Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 17% of the 103 sampled critics gave the film positive reviews and that it got an average score of 4.2 out of 10. 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 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."

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