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13 Movies like The Art of Getting By: Puppy Love, Pessimism & Pain

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Jonny_Sweet_itcher_contributorIt’s the classic story: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl tears boy’s heart out and tramples all over it. Needy, weedy, shy guys all over the world can relate to movies like ‘The Art of Getting By’, especially if they can identify with George and have come into contact with a Sally. For more of the same, check out ‘Lymelife’, ‘Thumbsucker’ and ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’. ~ Jonny Sweet

Barely Getting By

Growing up is hard enough at the best of times, but for an introvert who’s low on self-confidence, it can be made a whole lot worse by the evil-temptress-next-door, Emma Roberts. Indeed, young Miss Roberts appears to have forged a very successful career out of playing catty sirens, so much so that she even revealed the secret of the perfect bitch face on Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’.

Though Roberts does crop up in a couple of the recommendations below, her character is fairly universal in boyish coming-of-age stories. Indeed, the siren character in question more than likely doesn’t even mean to toy with the protagonist’s heartstrings in the majority of cases, but a girl like that is positively toxic to an insecure romantic.

Interestingly, such an uncomfortable subject appears to be a popular premise in Hollywood, so here are a cluster of other painfully awkward depictions of boys getting twisted round various little fingers.


Movies Similar to ‘The Art of Getting By’…

‘Lymelife’ (Derick Martini, 2008)

Poor old Rory Culkin not only has to deal with living in the shadow of brothers Macauley and Kieran, but is also subjected to the womanly wiles of Emma Roberts, too.

As a sensitive teenager, Rory is the polar opposite of his philandering father and we watch as he struggles to come to terms with a family unit that is crumbling around him.

All of this takes place against the backdrop of an outbreak of Lyme disease which has the entire town in a similar state of panic and upheaval.

Similarity Match: 90%
Scott in ‘Lymelife’ shares many of the same afflictions as George in ‘The Art of Getting By’, including a gentle soul, social awkwardness and a dangerous flirtation with a certain blonde actress.

‘Submarine’ (Richard Ayoade, 2010)

Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut is every bit as quirky and charismatic as you might expect, with a great deal more heart than perhaps anticipated.

Fifteen-year-old Oliver Tate experiences the first pangs of love, loss and heartbreak, all the while trying to hold together a family that is coming apart at the seams.

Similarity Match: 85%
‘Submarine’ and ‘The Art of Getting By’ are both chronicles of the first painful blooms of puppy love, though the former transplants the action to the shores of Swansea in Wales.

‘Adventureland’ (Greg Mottola, 2009)

Emma Roberts may have claimed the patented hair-flick as her own technique for achieving perfect bitch face, but Kristen Stewart was tousling away when Roberts was still in pigtails.

Here, Stewart plays a confused amusement park attendant who quickly enraptures new boy Jesse Eisenberg, unintentionally confusing the hell out of him in the process.

Similarity Match: 85%
Replace the high school setting in ‘The Art of Getting By’ with a theme park and Emma Roberts with Kristen Stewart, and you’ve got yourself ‘Adventureland’.

‘500 Days of Summer’ (Marc Webb, 2009)

‘500 Days of Summer’ is a highly stylised look at how a relationship can unfold when one party is clearly much more emotionally invested than the other, paying particular detail to how people can lie to and convince themselves that things are perfect when they are clearly not.

Similarity Match: 85%
Just like ‘The Art of Getting By’, ‘500 Days of Summer’ focuses on the perils of a relationship in which both parties are not equally invested – though the latter relationship develops much further than the former.

‘Thumbsucker’ (Mike Mills, 2005)

Justin Cobb finds himself susceptible to anxiety and depression as a result of mounting pressure at home and in school, which manifests itself most notably in him still sucking his thumb at the ripe old age of 17.

After trying a number of methods of ridding himself of the habit, including hypnosis, drugs and debating, Justin comes to learn a few valuable life lessons about himself and his place in society.

Similarity Match: 80%
Both ‘Thumbsucker’ and ‘The Art of Getting By’ feature intelligent but disillusioned youngsters who are marginalised at school, but while the latter seeks refuge in a sort of nihilistic pessimism, the former goes back to basics with a bout of good old-fashioned thumb-sucking.

‘Rocket Science’ (Jeffrey Blitz, 2007)

‘Rocket Science’ is remarkably similar to ‘Thumbsucker’ in that it features an insecure male teenager as its protagonist who tries to bring himself out of his shell by joining the school’s debate team.

However, instead of thumb-sucking, Hal’s timidity manifests itself in a marked and noticeable stutter.

Similarity Match: 80%
In both ‘The Art of Getting By’ and ‘Rocket Science’, the main character is torn by a betrayal – but whereas this act constitutes the main crux of the story in the former, it only provides the springboard for the action in the latter.

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ (Stephen Chbosky, 2012)

Charlie struggles to make similarly-aged acquaintances at school and instead relies upon a bond with his English teacher, until he is befriended by a group of off-the-wall seniors who teach him all about life, love and himself.

Similarity Match: 75%
Like George in ‘The Art of Getting By’, Charlie in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is a loner at school who develops strong feelings for a female friend – but unlike George, he manages to overcome his social awkwardness, only to find the origin of his problems far more deeply rooted than he had imagined.

‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, 2010)

Emma Roberts pops up once again, though this time as the Juliet to her previous roles of Rosaline.

Confused and depressed teen Craig checks himself into a psychiatric ward accidentally-on-purpose after mounting pressure at school invokes thoughts of suicide. Inside, he finds the lovely Miss Roberts and Zach Galifianakis in fine comedic fettle.

Similarity Match: 70%
‘The Art of Getting By’ and ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ both focus on depressed teens who have become disillusioned with their lives – but the latter is far darker and more realistic than the former.


If You Like ‘The Art of Getting By’, You Will Like…

So you get the idea – socially uncomfortable teenagers being manipulated by pretty girls makes for good viewing. But what about when the recluse in question graduates from high school and grows up? What about when the roles are reversed? What about if there’s no manipulation going on at all?

Here are a few more recommendations of romantic films like ‘The Art of Getting By’ which deal with the often arduous and sometimes devastating matter of love in a similarly quirky and offbeat fashion.

‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ (Peter Sollett, 2008)

Nick is still hung up on his ex-girlfriend who took him for granted, disregarded his mixtapes, and kicked him to the curb with a broken heart. Lo and behold!

Norah recovers the mixtapes from the bin and coincidentally asks Nick to pretend to be her boyfriend for an hour… the stage is set for an unlikely (but ever so slightly predictable) rebound.

Both ‘The Art of Getting By’ and ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ revolve around teenage romance and its attendant angst, but the latter is a far more light-hearted (and quite frankly preposterous) romp than the former.

‘Adam’ (Max Mayer, 2009)

Adam is a sensitive but socially awkward sufferer of Asperger’s Syndrome whose father’s death upsets his familiar routine.

That routine is disturbed even further when the attractive but damaged Beth moves in the apartment above him – will he make contact? (Of course he bloody will.)

Just like George in ‘The Art of Getting By’, the title character in ‘Adam’ is shy around the fairer sex and unsure how to respond to them – though that’s more a result of his Asperger’s Syndrome than any lingering adolescent angst.

‘The Spectacular Now’ (James Ponsoldt, 2013)

Class clown Sutter Keely is drifting aimlessly towards his graduation in a haze of drunkenness, pranks and laughter.

As the end of high school approaches, Keely’s immaturity begins to grate and leads to the end of his relationship with his long-term girlfriend, causing him to look for new meaning and depth in the unlikeliest of places.

While ‘The Spectacular Now’ and ‘The Art of Getting By’ both feature teen relationships in all their awkward glory, the former is a far more complex and less formulaic take on the subject than the latter.

‘The Fault in Our Stars’ (Josh Boone, 2014)

After being diagnosed with terminal thyroid cancer, Hazel Grace accepts that she will never lead a normal, fulfilled life and sinks into a depressed funk.

However, a chance meeting with a cancer survivor, Augustus, at a support group for the disease reinvigorates her spirit and gives a whole new meaning to her existence.

‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and ‘The Art of Getting By’ are both eulogies of star-crossed high school love affairs – though the presence of cancer as an overriding theme in the former lends it far more weight than the latter.

‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, 2015)

After a girl in his class is unexpectedly diagnosed with leukaemia, self-loathing social butterfly Greg is forced by his mother to befriend the poor girl. Initially reluctant, Greg soon finds he and Rachel have much in common and embarks on a journey that will change his perspective forever.

A truly remarkable and devastatingly honest depiction of adolescence, high school and terminal illness in the young.

‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ examines all of the teen issues that ‘The Art of Getting By’ does – but without the hackneyed heartache and with a whole lot more heart.


Calling All Self-Conscious Cinephiles!

Are you unlucky in love? Do you find social situations awkward? Do you derive a weird pleasure from seeing your discomfiture recreated on the silver screen by actors who almost definitely don’t suffer from the same maladies in the slightest? We need you!

The list outlined above is a great starting place for unearthing fantastic cinematic gems like ‘The Art of Getting By’… but there’s more to discover.

Add your own favourites in the comments section below. Mmmkaythanksverymuchbye.

I′m Jonny, an English Literature graduate who decided careers and mortgages were too mundane, and travelling, film, music and books were much more enticing. I have recently made a very comfortable nest for myself in Santiago de Chile, and on itcher Mag where I regularly contribute eloquent waffle on all manner of media.
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