• Wed, Jun 15 2011

Emma Roberts Manages to Play a Better Version of Her Past Roles in ‘The Art of Getting By’

Hollywood typecasting makes it easier to audiences to figure out what a movie’s about without knowing anything about its plot — thanks to actors who play the same roles over and over again, trying to recapture lightning in a bottle. With each role, they run these characters into the ground until they’re the most bare-bones stereotypes.

It becomes shorthand: Sarah Jessica Parker is a highstrung, Type A businesswoman. Sandra Bullock is tough-as-nails and uses a breezy attitude to hide her secret insecurities. Penelope Cruz played the same role in both the Spanish and American Vanilla Sky movies, with the second an awful remake of what had been a fantastic performance the first time around.

Emma Roberts‘ good-girl muse Sally in The Art of Getting By could have been just a worse rehashing of her radiant character in Twelve, but the combination of director Gavin Wiesen‘s script and Roberts’ own know-how elevates Sally to a better version of what we’ve seen before.

Twelve isn’t Roberts’ fault: The movie is the deliriously bad tale of good-guy-turned-drug-dealer White Mike (Chace Crawford), who caters to his former classmates’ partygoing needs while maintaining a shaky alliance with fellow dealer Lionel (50 Cent).

Roberts plays Molly — even the names sound similar! — White Mike’s childhood friend. Even though she tries to keep in touch with him after his mother’s death, he gradually alienates her because he wants to keep her safe from his immoral life. Of course, by events out of White Mike’s control, Molly ends up getting invited to the big party he’s “catering,” and is disgusted by his status as a drug dealer, but moreso by the fact that he didn’t think enough of her to tell her the truth. Roberts is stuck within the confines of a sketchy character, and isn’t at all memorable.

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