While I don't usually care for "teenage rebel falls for blonde chick while neglecting his homework but still being super smart" plots, I liked this one because Freddie Highmore's character is very easy to sympathize with. He's not an asshole. I would say he's less of a rebel and more just a shy kid trying to figure out who he is. He reminded me of a friend I had in Cegep who never did his homework just because he felt like drawing instead, or reading a book for pleasure, or just spending his time on things that mattered more to him.
I guess I really liked this movie because it felt honest. It felt like it was written by someone who at least remembers what it's like to be a teenager. I hate TV shows and movies where the characters go to clubs because they always get it completely wrong, but "The Art of Getting By" actually did a good job with their New Year's Eve club scene. My favourite part of the movie is when George and Sally are having a "just friends" valentine's day dinner, and it's really clear to the audience that George is in love with her, but then this awkward/tense conversation occurs:
Sally: Have you ever had sex?
George: Yeah, tons.
Sally: No, really, have you?
George: Why are you asking me this? You know I haven't.
Sally: Well, I don't know, I'm just wondering. ... Have you ever thought about me?
George: What do you mean?
Sally: You know what I mean. Have you ever...have you ever thought about it?
George: Why are you doing this?
I just thought it was a realistic dialogue between two young people, one sexually experienced, one not at all, trying to navigate friendship and romance and growing up. I liked the feeling of him wanting to express his feelings, but not being ready to.
The only thing I couldn't stand is how obvious it is that George (Freddie Highmore) needs help, but his teacher's pretty much abandon him even though he tells them he's depressed. Maybe that's realistic too, sadly.
I also fully appreciated how much Emma Roberts looks like Dianna Agron who (whom?) I unabashedly love.
Also the soundtrack was awesome.
Who am I kidding? This movie was a total guilty pleasure.