Unfolds like a fable instead of a believable slice of life. Mexican TV and film star Bichir gives a poignant performance, but he's distinctly more European than the cholos and Chicano laborers on the sketchy edges of the hero's plight.
Yet notwithstanding its derivative dolefulness and PG-13 timidity, The Art of Getting By is smart and sweet enough to become the favorite film of some Midwestern adolescent who wrongly believes he's already seen the dark side.
Although this sober film spares us some of the grim, survivalist details, the harrowing adventure from a girl's perspective is so compelling that Julia's simultaneous sleuthing seems like an unnecessary distraction.
This loony 'toon is dizzy with wonderments, especially in 3-D. The spindly-limbed character design owes more to Charles Addams' family than to Walt Disney's kingdom, while the story and settings evoke James Bond on laughing gas.