Sundance 2011 Review: HOMEWORK

ReviewMovie Sundance by Joey Paur

Homework doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of love at The Sundance Film Festival, but I actually kind of liked it. Not because it was a well made film, because it wasn’t, this movie had some problems. I liked it because I was able to connect with the main character of the film. I could relate to the experiences and feelings he was going through in the story, so there was a personal connection there for me to grab hold of, and for that reason I liked it.

The story follows a teenage boy by the name of George, who is a high school loner with no ambitions at all. It’s his senior year, and George pretty much just gives up on life. He doesn’t do any of his school work, he’s on the verge of expulsion, and all he does is doodle in his textbooks. He is an artist. He just figures he’s going to die eventually anyway so what the hell is the point of striving to be something. Then he meets a girl named Sally and becomes mentored by a successful artist by the name of Dustin. These new relationships change everything for George, and helps put him on the right path, but not before almost everything crashes down around him. Like most coming of age movies George learns life lessons the hard way.

The script for this movie was it’s major weakness. It tried way too hard to be a quirky coming-of-age comedy. The film was written and directed by Gavin Wiesen, and he tried  to write some fun offbeat witty dialogue that didn’t really come off natural for these characters at all. It came off being very flat when it was delivered by the actors. I thought the direction was good, and the shots were set up nicely, but the script just didn’t cut it.

I just have to point out one thing that kind of bugged me in the film, and that’s that these high school teenagers were able to go out and get alcohol whenever and where ever they wanted. They would sit down in bars, restaurants, and clubs and just start downing the booze. Is this normal for New York? I grew up in Los Angeles and this was never the case. I was just confused by these teens being able to do this with no questions asked.

The film has a decent cast of actors that includes Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, and Rita Wilson, and they all did a decent job in their roles. 

Besides the fact that I was able to relate to the character in this film, the other thing I liked about it was it had an uplifting ending. It’s always nice to see a movie that ends on a high uplifting note, it tends to put me in a good mood even if the movie wasn’t all that good.

I’m sure the film will get picked up, but who knows how long it will be before it’s released and how wide of a release it will get. In the end the movie is probably worth a rental. 

Here’s the official synopsis for the film:

George (Freddie Highmore), a smart teenage loner, has made it to his senior year despite the fact that he has never completed an assignment. Enter Sally (Emma Roberts), the school beauty, who hides her melancholy behind the protective mask of popularity. An unlikely connection blooms as these kindred spirits bond over their troubled parental relationships. With his education hanging by a thread, George concedes to let Dustin mentor him. Dustin is a successful artist, and he’s 25 years old—finally, someone George can respect! With Sally and Dustin by his side, George blossoms and dares to look toward the future. But George soon learns that life and love have a way of dashing dreams as rites of passage and mounds of homework threaten to do him in on the eve of his graduation.

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