I’m happy for Homework that it got picked up for distribution and people seem to like it. There’s nothing offensive about it, I just found it completely unmoving. Maybe it was Sundance fatigue, or maybe because I’d just seen Like Crazy which is the ultimate powerful romance.
George (Freddie Highmore) doesn’t do his homework because he thinks there are more important things to think about in life. He’s right, but failin high school won’t help him make a difference. He makes friends with Sally (Emma Roberts), a popular rich girl. It’s not about whether George can make Sally love him. He doesn’t even know if he’s in love.
There’s an inherent lack of dramatic thrust here. If George can’t even admit he’s in love, I’m not going to wait around for him to figure it out. Yes, it’s relatable and we’ve all been young before. Some of us were even as thoughtful and articulate as George and Emma, but relatable does not equal dramatic.
The characters and performances are great. George gives his highbrow explanations for skipping schoolwork to teachers and his mother (Rita Wilson). He has the confidence to stick to his guns, and the adults pretty much accept that he’s too smart to force him to tow the line.
Principal Martinson can force George to be liaison for career day visitor Dustin (Michael Angarano), a working artist who really doesn’t have much career advice. He does take George and Emma into his grown-up world. He’s got sparks for Emma too (she’s 18, don’t worry), but not in a Hollywood D-bag way. Remember George refuses to make a move.
Emma is smart enough to know what both characters need to grow into adults. That promises a more independent minded resolution to the romance, but Homework is actually as predictable as a Hollywood movie. Even George’s final assignment is pretty much what you’d imagine he’d have to do to turn things around.
Yes, Homework is the story of people trying to find their inspiration. I don’t feel like they actually do anything to get there though. George goes to Louis Malle films when he cuts school. Emma’s friend Zoe (Sasha Spielberg) takes them to a club and George doesn’t like it. Dustin pushes George to interpret modern art. Does that mean something to you? Again, the movie is just average but I wouldn’t have any reason to see it if I weren’t interviewing the cast.