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.
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.
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