Sundance 2011: HOMEWORK Review

     January 23, 2011

Take every awful indie coming-of-age movie cliché, cram it into one film, fill it with terrible dialogue and bored-looking actors and you are starting to approach the disaster that is Gavin Wisen’s Homework.  If someone were making a parody of the modern art-house coming-of-age film, this would be it.  Despite a relatively-short 84 minute runtime, Homework is an interminable slog as we’re forced to suffer yet another movie about a privileged teenage who’s life is so perfect that he’s forced to conjure his own misfortune.

George (Freddie Highmore) is a slacker that has come upon a wacky reason not to do his homework: fatalism.  Since he’s going to die anyway, his trigonometry assignments don’t seem that important.  Why is he so depressed?  Does he come from a broken homelife?  Not really.  He lives in a nice brownstone in New York City, but his stepfather is kind of a jerk.  Does he have some dark secret in his past?  Who knows.  He was birthed into this world arty and misunderstood.  He was also blessed with eye-rollingly bad dialogue such as:

“I’m afraid of life.”

“I’m a misanthrope, but not by choice.”

“I’m allergic to hormones.”

“I’m in love with you.  I always have been.”

Highmore doesn’t have a prayer of convincingly spouting lines like these, and he deserves credit for not wincing while he said them.

homework_movie_image_Freddie_Highmore_Emma_Roberts

While George is busy doodling and being uninteresting, he begins a friendship with Sally (Emma Roberts), but starts to fall for her because she’s pretty and…she’s pretty.  I would call her character paper-thin but that’s insult to the thickness of paper and the fine people who make it.  George also begins a relationship with Dustin, a professional artist (Michael Angarano).  Their “relationship” consists of two scenes where Dustin gives George advice.

Homework could exist as a scathing parody of the indie coming-of-age film, but instead it serves as a laundry list of the worst qualities the genre has to offer.  It takes over an hour for the film to find a real conflict for George, and by that point we’re too far gone to care.  Wisen gives his debut feature no voice, no personality, and no reason to exist.

Rating: F

For all of our coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, click here. Also, here are links to all of my Sundance reviews so far:

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