The teenager has always been an endless source of subject matter for writers and filmmakers, creating it’s own genre.  From John Hughes to Larry Clark the open range has created mostly a pool of mediocre highs and lows that disappear with each generation.  However when a filmmaker gets it right and creates an honest moment of the teenager in his or her point in time it can be something special connecting with generations. The Art of Getting By takes a shot at capturing the emotions of a teen on the brink of what is usually the best time of a teenagers life, high school senior year.

The setting of New York City typically plays the fantasy in a teenage film. Growing up in the suburbs or rural areas compels teens to dream about what it’s like in the big city. Some films have even used the big city as the pinnacle of their story.  In The Art of Getting By George, played by Freddie Highmore, lives in the city and like most subjects in this genre, he’s different, even among the teens in the Big Apple. George has a cynical outlook on life. “Why bother because we all eventually die” and until now it’s worked out for him, but with the demands of graduation his art of getting by is about to fail.

Timing is on his side when he meets Sally, played by Emma Roberts, who seems to be drawn to his unique mentality. The jolt of having interest in someone gives George a reason to think differently and about the good things in life like women.  From this point on The Art of Getting By starts to look like the coming of age teen films we all know. The way it separates itself is by the mature performances, honesty, and incognito visuals of New York City.

I don’t think anyone has ever connected with teens as well as John Hughes and Larry Clark. From each end of the spectrum, both filmmakers have managed to capture the true understanding of what it’s like to be a teenager emotionally. The Art of Getting By shows a glimmer of each filmmaker. Gavin Wiesen accomplishes this by casting Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts and by writing and directing a story that didn’t try to shock anyone.

The setting could have easily encouraged Gavin to adjust his story to fit a seemingly more hip and influential world that balk at happy endings. I thought for sure with the elements involved this movie was going to try and wow the pseudo intellectuals who cringe at anything positive and uplifting, but I was pleasantly satisfied at the coming of age story Gavin Wiesen delivered.