Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

George is in something of a self-made funk. Listless and depressed enough to be totally focused on the fact that he's going to die someday, he's a slouch-around Manhattan prep schooler who cuts class to watch Louis Malle films at the local art house. That means he's quasi-intellectual and young enough to think that just giving up makes as much sense as anything else.

And so for most of his senior year George has been checked out, tossing classwork aside on a growing pile of "who cares?" He draws ceaselessly—covering every square inch of his textbooks' innards with a rambling pencil line of cartoons and fevered sketches—but even in art class he can't seem to find anything worth saying. He simply drifts … an expressionless mop-haired cipher wrapped in a T-shirt and trench coat.

George's well-meaning school principal and teachers want to give him a chance. But it's so late in the year. Graduating is probably impossible. And his mom is caught up in so much of her own financial and relational woes that she can only fret in George's direction and leave him be.

Then along comes Sally.

A pretty but equally bland young girl, Sally has her own weighty albatross of family dysfunctions and life dissatisfactions to deal with. So the two strike up a friendship. It's a nodding understanding that leads to shared noodles on a city street walk and emo rock-underscored glances.

What else can this be but a love story?

Positive Elements

George doesn't have very many adults in his life who truly care about his welfare. But his school principal and his teachers come as close as anyone. Seeing George come through on an offered second chance, Principal Martinson tells the boy, "Anything is possible."

It's obvious that George's mom loves him. But because of her own worries and a lack of will to correct her son, she is a totally ineffective parent. Still, after one big implosion at home, George hugs his weeping mom and dedicates himself to "turn[ing] things around."

George meets a twentysomething artist named Dustin who encourages him in his art.

Spiritual Content

George draws a picture of a demon-like character with horns.

Sexual Content

After bringing a drunken George back home to her room, we watch from behind as Sally strips off her dress. George spends the night on Sally's floor and wakes to catch her smirking at his erection (a bump under the blanket). Sally asks George to have sex with her. But it's an awkward moment that crumbles into embarrassment. It is implied that Sally has a sexual fling with Dustin, though. (We see her in a tank top in Dustin's bed.) George and Sally kiss several times, as do Sally and Dustin. Dustin suggests that George "slam Sally up against a wall and start kissing her" if he wants to know how she feels.

Sally's single mom (looking barely older than her) spends most of her screen time in a low-cut slip—between one sexual pickup or another. She openly talks with George and Sally about her escapades. And she suggests that George is probably a good lover because he's ticklish. George is impressed with her and says, "My god, she's amazing." To which Sally retorts, "Not if you're her daughter." Sally later tells George that her last stepdad cheated on her mom "all the time."

At a dance club George's friend Zoe offers to hook him up with one of her "slutty friends." Girls there wear formfitting and low-cut outfits. Upon seeing Sally dressed in a slinky dress George says, "I'm allergic to hormones … my own." A guy at a club hits on Sally, grinding up close to her. George uses vulgar group-sex slang to describe a Valentine's dinner.

Violent Content

George gets into a tussle with his stepdad. The two flail around and then slam into a wall, breaking the older man's collarbone.

Crude or Profane Language

One f-word and a half-dozen s-words join two or three each of "h‑‑‑" and "b‑‑ch." Jesus' name is misused a handful of times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Even though the central characters are high school kids, they and their friends all smoke and drink constantly at private and public parties and clubs. In numerous scenes we see George, Sally and others chug back everything from bottles of beer to shots of hard liquor.

While they chat, Sally's mom drinks wine, and George and Sally have mugs of beer. After George wakes up with a hangover, Sally's mom gives him tomato juice spiked with more alcohol.

Dustin stubs out a cigarette on his painting as a sort of finishing touch.

Other Negative Elements

Drunk, George vomits on the sidewalk and then passes out. Both Sally's and George's mothers have been divorced and are currently either divorcing again or in the process of finding another, at least temporary, mate. George's stepdad has little else to say to him than, "You're pathetic." George and Sally cut school.


The Art of Getting By just wants to, well, just get by. It is something of a poetic exposé on our modern youth culture and its angst-filled view of life. And in a very low-key way its characters do seek some kind of inspiration.

Any kind of inspiration.

Their pursuits, however, are so boozy, underplayed and passionless it's really very hard to watch and care. In fact, if this superficially slick and generally depressing film were a TV show, most non-self-flagellating viewers would likely change the channel several minutes in. If you did choose to stick it out, you'd find that the real lessons it imparts have much more to do with the adults in the wings than the teens in the spotlight.

Even a small amount of understanding about life makes it pretty easy to connect the kids' fatalistic views and general fecklessness with the self-absorbed adults in their lives at home. These moms—and whoever's currently sitting in for dads—are so busy lying, bailing on commitments, traveling the world or rekindling their sexual wild sides that it would almost be unimaginable for their kids to not be rudderless.

From the moviemakers' perspective, that may be an accidental takeaway. But it's the one thing that rings true in a film that otherwise feels empty and hollow.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Freddie Highmore as George Zinavoy; Emma Roberts as Sally Howe; Sasha Spielberg as Zoe Rubenstein; Blair Underwood as Principal Martinson; Alicia Silverstone as Ms. Herman; Michael Angarano as Dustin


Gavin Wiesen ( )


Fox Searchlight



Record Label



In Theaters

June 17, 2011

On Video

November 29, 2011

Year Published



Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!