** (out of four)
High school senior George (Freddie Highmore) is a rebel in the least exciting way possible: He's fixated on the notion that everyone dies alone and thus, he doesn't see the point of doing any schoolwork. Maybe a new friendship with Sally (Emma Roberts) can shake him out of his perpetual funk. This wallflower inevitably develops a crush on her and doesn't act on it, and you get the idea.
The buzz: Anyone else feel old knowing that Highmore (of "Finding Neverland") is now 19? And that Michael Angarano, the kid from "Almost Famous," appears in "Art" as a college student? Sheesh. Anyway, the appealing Roberts has done good work in cute-yet-moody roles like this before ("It's Kind of a Funny Story").
The verdict: George spends a lot of time in his own head, but we're not in there with him. Writer-director Gavin Wiesen's stale feature debut needs to be funnier, smarter, more surprising. Instead its wit (or lack thereof) isn't dry so much as soggy, bogged down by George's brooding that doesn't yield any unusual epiphanies or major statements about escaping teenage gloom or the friend zone. "Art" only comes alive when its characters work to distinguish the world's realities from what George frequently diagnoses as "bull[bleep]," which is ideally a distinction everyone should be making all the time.
Did you know? Sally's mom (Elizabeth Reaser), who really doesn't understand what you are and aren't supposed to say to your child's friends, tells George that "Ticklish people make great lovers." Whether or not that's true, keep it to yourself, ma.
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