The Art of Getting By (Blu-ray Review)

The tagline on the cover art for the Blu-ray for The Art of Getting By states, “From the studio that brought you Juno and (500) Days of Summer.”  It is basically stating, “If you liked those films, you might like this one.”  What is should have stated is, “If you liked those films, stick with ‘em, and don’t bother with this.”  The Art of Getting By feels like the kind of film that justifies someone’s argument when they can appreciate a different indie film that has a sense of being pretentious, but is still good overall, because it is at least not as obnoxious as this titular indie romance.  While this film may have in a nice collection of mellow soundtrack picks, it disappoints in feeling like anything but an exercise in how to make a conceited, coming-of-age story.


The Art of Getting By stars Freddie Highmore as a high school teen, George, in New York, who seems to have taken the principles of nihilism to heart.  He is fatalistic and despite being able to achieve good grades based on his intellect, he sees no real point in doing the work required of him.  He goes to class sometimes and does not do any of his homework.  One day, George forms a friendship with Sally (Emma Roberts), after saving her some trouble by taking the blame for smoking on the roof of their school.  It is due to this friendship (and Sally can be seen as a kindred spirit of sorts) that George starts to actively participate in school again.

As George is an aspiring artist, things take a step forward yet again when meets Dustin (Michael Angarano), an alumnus of his school and now a successful artist himself.  Dustin does what he can to help guide George a bit, but George eventually gets too hung up on not confronting his feelings about Sally.  This only leads George back down the path of not caring about his progress in school, but these distractions are only going to make matters worse if he doesn’t figure out what he needs to do to get by.

Aside from being incredibly predictable from the get-go, the most irritating thing about this movie (and there are a few things I could explore), is the fact our lead character, George, is incredibly grating.  The drama involving his character revolves around the fact that he just doesn’t try.  He is supposedly “fatalistic”, but c’mon, this kid is in high school and has the whole world in front of him, let alone all of the intellect to know exactly how to exceed in his studies, let alone life.  All of this is to say that me not getting behind the intentions of the lead character in the film and instead finding him to be fairly deplorable because of what I would rather label as “laziness” is a pretty assured way of not having me appreciate the film as a whole.  Yet there are more elements for me to dislike, which involve the efforts to make these characters seem likably quirky, when it really just sticks out as marks on the indie romance checklist.

This could turn into a list of complaints real quick, if I continued to lay out the various other problems I had with the film, but the ending result essentially boils down to the fact that I do not really enjoy how this film came together.  I understand that this film contains autobiographic elements from writer/director’s Gavin Wiesen’s life, but while other, similar films (let alone the book Catcher in the Rye) manage to offer a unique take on this sort of story, The Art of Getting By feels like it wants to just get by through its poorly achieved attempts at seeming sincere.


The video presentation on this disc is fairly average.  The 1080p AVC Encoded transfer delivers a fairly crisp-looking picture.  Given that the film is set in an urban environment and during mostly cold weather periods, it has a sort of muted color palette, which seems to be well enough represented on the disc.  The film has been notably not filmed on digital (a rarity these days for low budget indie fare), but on 35 mm, which means there is an earthy quality to the picture.  Colors and textures come through clear enough, but this isn’t a film that is all about visual spectacle, so it is about as good as it can be in its video quality overall.



Similar to the video presentation, the audio is also fitting of an average score.  The disc features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which is fitting enough to hear all of the dialogue in this very dialogue-focused film, along with all the soundtrack choices used to accompany the film.  Nothing really sounds amiss, things seem to balance out well enough, but this is not really a film to show off the quality of Blu-ray with.  It is mixed well enough, without calling attention to the more mixed areas in audio presentation.

Special Features: 

The disc also manages to supply a small set of extras, most of which are presented in HD.  Given that I disliked this film, not a whole lot of this really caught my eye, but the features are here nonetheless.

Features Include:

Fox Movie Channel Presents In Character with Freddie Highmore

HBO First Look:  The Making of The Art of Getting By

Audio Commentary with Director Gavin Wiesen

Theatrical Trailer

New York Slice of Life

On Young Love

Final Thoughts: 

I was not too keen on The Art of Getting By.  I can appreciate a filmmaker wanting to tell his story and the actors do what they can with what they have to work with, but I just could not get into this film.  The Blu-ray presentation is decent enough.  It allows the film to be represented as well as it can and has a few extras to provide a little bit of insight into its production.  Hopefully others who decide to take the plunge and watch this film anyway can find more out of this film than I did, but I don’t expect a high percentage to factor into that.



Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

1 Response to “The Art of Getting By (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Matt Goodman

    Willy Wonka!!