The Art of Getting By

The Art of Getting By is a 2011 American 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.[2] The film premiered under the title Homework at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.[3][4]

The Art of Getting By
The Art of Getting By Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGavin Wiesen
Written byGavin Wiesen
Produced by
  • Darren Goldberg
  • Gia Walsh
  • Kara Baker
  • P. Jennifer Dana
CinematographyBen Kutchins
Edited byMollie Goldstein
Music byAlec Puro
  • Island Bound Productions
  • Mint Pictures
  • Atlantic Pictures
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 23, 2011 (2011-01-23) (Sundance)
  • June 17, 2011 (2011-06-17)
Running time
84 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million[1]
Box office$2 million[1]


George (Freddie Highmore) is a loner high school student with a penchant for drawing and skipping class. He has a nihilistic view of the world which is why he never does homework and skips school frequently. His academic delinquency puts him on academic probation.

One day while on the school roof he encounters another classmate, Sally (Emma Roberts), smoking. When a teacher appears, George pulls out a cigarette and takes the fall for Sally. They become friends.

On career day, George meets young artist, Dustin (Michael Angarano), finding him inspiring. He brings Sally with him to visit Dustin at his studio in Brooklyn and it becomes apparent that Dustin finds Sally attractive. She invites George to a New Year's Eve party where she dances with an ex-boyfriend and George gets drunk, goes outside, throws up, and falls asleep in an alley. Finding him there, she takes him to her place, putting him to bed on a pull-out next to her bed. They grow close and George gets more involved in school.

On Valentine's Day, they go out to dinner and Sally starts asking questions about what he thinks of her. George is evasive, and she asks him if he'll have sex with her. George freezes. Sally backtracks and claims she was kidding. He remains withdrawn and leaves early. He refuses to take Sally's calls and avoids her. One day Sally runs into Dustin in the street and after a while the two of them start a relationship. George, troubled by this, stops doing homework and is again sent to the principal's (Blair Underwood) office.

The principal gives George two choices: be expelled, or make up all of the work he has missed all year. Confronted by his mother and stepfather (Rita Wilson and Sam Robards) at home, he responds by telling his mother that his stepfather has been lying about work. The stepfather attacks him and George knocks him down before taking off. He goes to Sally's and, in the hallway, kisses her. Sally kisses back but breaks away as Dustin is in her apartment. Angry and hurt, George leaves.

The next morning, George finds his mother in the park and she tells him she's divorcing his stepfather. Consoling her, he begins to rethink his life. He decides to make the effort to do his assignments. His art teacher tells him he wants only one project, but that it must be honest and real. George works on his backwork and takes his final exams. Meanwhile, Sally continues seeing Dustin.

One day George gets a message from Sally. They meet and she tells him she's going backpacking with Dustin through Europe and skipping graduation. He tells her he's in love with her and they go back to her apartment, where they kiss. She tells him she loves him too and promises they'll be together one day. George turns in all his assignments and the principal tells him he'll know he's passed if his name is called at graduation. George's art teacher applauds him on his project.

At graduation, George is with Sally's friends with his mother in the audience. Sally is at the airport with Dustin. George's name is called and his mother applauds. Afterwards George is in the art classroom looking at his art project, the portrait of Sally. She walks in, joining him looking at the painting as the film closes.



The film finished shooting in New York City on April 23, 2010.[5]


The music from the film was released by Rhino Records on June 14 as a CD soundtrack with 12 tracks.[6][7]

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.[3] The movie was released on Blu-ray Disc on November 29, 2011.


Box officeEdit

The Art of Getting By grossed $1.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $0.6 million in other territories, for a total of $2 million, against a production budget of $4 million.[1]

Critical responseEdit

As of October 2021, the film holds a 19% approval rating on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 113 reviews with an average rating of 4.3/10. The site's consensus states: "A sitcom-level twee mess that bakes in the typical manic pixie dream girl and boring, withdrawn boy hero."[8] At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received a score of 36% based on 28 reviews, which indicates "generally unfavorable reviews".[9] 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."[10]

Awards and accoladesEdit

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2011 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic The Art of Getting By Nominated[11]
2011 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Romantic Comedy Emma Roberts Nominated[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Art of Getting By (2011)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  2. ^ Cox, Gordon (April 21, 2010). "Roberts, Highmore assigned 'Homework'". Variety. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Sundance Film Festival 2011: Homework". Retrieved March 1, 2012.
  4. ^ Another movie poster with the original title. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  5. ^ White, James (April 22, 2010). "Freddie Highmore Has Homework". Empire. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Art of Getting By' Soundtrack Details". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  7. ^ The Art of Getting By at Discogs.
  8. ^ "The Art of Getting By (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  9. ^ "The Art of Getting By Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  10. ^ Douglas, Edward (June 2011). "The Art of Getting By review". CraveOnline. Archived from the original on December 11, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  11. ^ "2011 Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in Competition". December 1, 2010. Archived from the original on February 2, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  12. ^ "Teen Choice Awards 2011 Nominees Announced: Harry Potter vs Twilight". HuffPost. August 29, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2018.

External linksEdit