By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 19, 2011 at 8:52AM
While Fox Searchlight's $3-million Sundance pick-up formerly titled Homework now boasts the new title The Art of Getting By, rookie Gavin Wiesen's beauty and the nerd romance starring Emma Roberts (Scream 4) as a gorgeous girl who sees merit in lonely depressive Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), has held onto its opening date of June 17th--for a platform release--which will expand nationally in July.
The film, clearly aimed at young women, nabbed mixed early reviews.
Hence college student Nora Chute may represent the target demo better than the older male trade reviewers below:
It’s a fresh spin on the high school love story. It manages to take cliche components—the smart but unmotivated loner, the pretty misunderstood girl, the over-worked mom—and create an honest story with just enough Hollywood polish and fantasy. It was pleasant, funny, complex and accurate.
Facile, formulaic and utterly charm-free, "Homework" runs 84 minutes with nary a sincere emotional moment. Helmer Gavin Wiesen's screenplay doesn't add much to the disaffected-youth genre apart from a soulless gloss, and young Freddie Highmore, as the disaffected but artistically gifted George Zinavoy, is trapped in his own mannerisms, consistently reminding the viewer that he's supposed to be playing someone special, yet never closing the argument. Sundance pickup by Fox Searchlight will ensure wide exposure, but word of mouth could stop pic in its tracks.
Homework, is a high-school romance that is proof that there is still life in the Beverly Hills 90210 formula for someone willing to remix and relocate the familiar ingredients at feature length.
Homework is an epitome of the quirky, coming of age trend at Sundance, a hollow but likable enough comedy headed for modest box office after its recent acquisition by Fox Searchlight. George (Freddie Highmore) is a brilliant and artistic young Manhattanite with one of those bogus movie problems: somehow, he's convinced himself life isn't worth living without becoming blatantly depressed or suicidal. He's just decided there isn't any reason to do his homework.