Two Romances from Fox
The Art of Getting By (June 10/11)
A fairly typical coming-of-age drama, The Art of Getting By follows morose teenager George Zinavoy (Freddie Highmore) as he meets (and eventually falls for) a pretty, popular fellow student named Sally (Emma Roberts) - with problems ensuing as George's refusal to complete his schoolwork inevitably catches up with him. First-time filmmaker Gavin Weisen does a nice job of initially drawing the viewer into the movie's admittedly familiar storyline, with Highmore's charming work heightened by Weisen's subdued, freewheeling sensibilities (ie the film almost feels like a character study in its early stages). The affable atmosphere is perpetuated by George's tentative yet life-altering friendship with Roberts' character, and it does, at the outset, appear as though Weisen is going to avoid the myriad of tropes that one has come to associate with movies of this ilk (eg the dreaded fake break-up). It's rather disappointing to note, then, that The Art of Getting By slowly-but-surely morphs into a distressingly conventional piece of work, as Weisen subjects the protagonist to a series of hackneyed problems that wreak havoc on the film's momentum - with the inclusion of an entirely needless love triangle surely standing as the most obvious example of this. As a result, one's efforts at working up any real interest in George's climactic attempts at overcoming the various obstacles set before him fall completely and utterly flat, which does ensure that the movie is ultimately unable to pack the feel-good punch that the ending has clearly been designed to provide. It's a shame, really, given that The Art of Getting By features a number of charismatic performances and a breezy, effortlessly entertaining first half, with the movie's positive attributes inevitably canceled out by Weisen's progressively pedestrian modus operandi.
Waiting for Forever (June 16/11)
Oppressively quirky from start to finish, Waiting for Forever follows a mentally unbalanced vagabond (Tom Sturridge's Will) as he attempts to profess his love to the childhood friend (Rachel Bilson's Emma) that he's been stalking for years - with opportunity finally arising as Emma returns home to be with her ailing father (Richard Jenkins' Richard). The degree to which director James Keach alienates the viewer is almost impressive, as Will is instantly established as an unreasonably off-kilter figure that doesn't seem to possess any authentic attributes. (He's just so relentlessly, annoyingly wacky.) There's subsequently little doubt that one's efforts at working up any interest in Will's ongoing exploits fall completely and utterly flat, and it does, as a result, become virtually impossible to root for Will's inevitable coupling with Emma. (Sturridge's underwhelming performance only confirms Will's place as a distressingly lifeless protagonist.) Keach, working from Steve Adams' script, has infused Waiting for Forever with an excessively deliberate pace that ultimately exacerbates the film's various problems, which, in the final analysis, cements the movie's place as an entirely worthless (and surprisingly dull) romantic drama.