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.
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:
- Bobby Fischer Against the World
- Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel
- The Interrupters
- Like Crazy
- Magic Trip
- The Music Never Stopped
- My Idiot Brother
- Project Nim
- Win Win