I saw this one -- mercifully -- for free, and I took my friend, Pamela, along. She drove us out to the megaplex way out in the 'burbs, and now I feel like I owe her gas money. Here's what I recall of our conversation as we left the theater.
Pamela: Wow, I wonder what made Alicia Silverstone take that small part as an English teacher. It's as if she said to the director, 'I want to be sure my vision for the character matches yours. I don't want to look even remotely attractive in this film. I want to be frumpy and wear an oversized cardigan in every scene. Is that how you see her?'
Chronic Critic: No kidding. I wonder what made anyone take a part in that movie. It was really pretty awful.
Pamela (pointing toward me): I really want to get the opinion of a professional movie critic.
Chronic Critic: I'm sure all the pros -- including moi -- will agree that this one sucks. There was no story there. But, they didn't leave out a single cliche. You have the gruff, elderly art teacher with a vaguely European accent, a shock of white hair and the requisite tiny ponytail.
Pamela: Yes! And, even though George (Freddie Highmore) is a total slacker with no respect for his teachers or his courses, everyone sees some glimmer of greatness and is willing to give him chance after chance ...
Chronic Critic: I know! It's like the principal (Blair Underwood) and all the teachers in the private school have nothing else to do except ensure that this one existential slacker succeeds. Speaking of existential, did you see what George was reading in the scenes where he has a book? The Stranger! Sorry, but that one's been done to death. There wasn't a single original notion or prop in this movie.
Pamela: And, what a ridiculous ending. [SPOILER ALERT] If even one of those overly dramatic things in that perfect storm -- the coupling of George's dream girl, Sally, (Emma Roberts) with the man he had chosen as his art mentor, the uncovering of the failure of George's stepdad's business, the stepdad/stepson brawl that sends one of them to the hospital and ... and ... Emma Roberts's floozy mother up and moving to Texas from New York -- hadn't happened, do you think George would have been able to cram a year's worth of work into three weeks and then graduate on time?
Chronic Critic: Never in real life. Only in a poorly written script could that happen.
Pamela: And what about that dialogue? How could those kids speak those lines with a straight face? Kids don't talk like that.
Chronic Critic: Probably not even wealthy ones living semi-independently in Manhattan. Such a crock. I'm sorry I gave you a free ticket to this.
Pamela: Well, dinner at the Kebab House was good.