Who's In It: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Blair Underwood, Rita Wilson, Sasha Spielberg
The Basics: George (Highmore) is one of those kids who isn't what he appears to be. On the surface, he is a lazy and uncooperative kid who disrupts class with his lack of interest. However, the side that no one gets to see is the fatalistic, jaded smarty pants that he really is underneath it all. He begins spending time with the prettiest girl in school Sally (Roberts), who is delighted at the chance to hang out with a boy who sees the world in such a dark way. Things soon fall apart as his teachers revolt against his lack of participation, and his principal (Underwood) demands he complete every assignment from the year in three weeks. Simultaneously, Sally slips from his grasp, and his home life crumbles, so George has to figure out whether or not he really believes in anything enough to do more than just survive.
What's The Deal: Reliving high school through film, no matter how different it is from your experience, can be somewhat cathartic. Since experience is something that comes just after you need it, it's intriguing to look back at things, right? Well, not if the movie you're watching is chock full of cliches. Highmore and Roberts had interesting chemistry that felt appropriate for their characters. However, past the unlikely ultimatum given to George by his principal, there wasn't anything new enough in this movie to make it stand out against other coming of age stories. I didn't laugh a lot and there were numerous bad music cues prompting me to feel something.
No Macaulays Here: Freddie Highmore is a really interesting actor. I think the script failed him in this movie, but he was doing a heckuva job bringing realistic teenage angst to the screen without overacting. His British accent was completely gone as well, which was fantastic. Since everyone knows that British people are smarter than normal people, any trace of the accent in his voice would have made him more unrelatable, and this character needed all the help he could get. The rest of the good news is that he seems to be making the transition from cute kid to nice-looking teenager very well, so he can keep working. Also holding her own in the film is Emma Roberts, who isn't just another pretty face. She went from Scream 4 to this effortlessly and is engaging onscreen.
The Ultimate Problem: It's a struggle to get on the side of the kid who's been handed everything and still refuses to be even relatively pleasant (yes, this statement makes me fully acknowledge that I am aging). Although Freddy Highmore does his best to get us on his side, there's not enough sparkle in the movie to keep me interested. That, plus the fact that I could see every plot point coming means that this movie is pretty skippable.