Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

Liberal Arts - Review


liberalartsposter.jpgJosh Radnor stars as Jesse - a thirtysomething college admissions worker who is not living the life he always dreamed of.  His relationship has fallen apart and work is not fulfilling, but he is looking forward to the retirement celebration of his favorite college professor, Peter Hoberg (Richard Jenkins). 

When Jesse gets back to campus, he starts to feel nostalgic for those times when the whole world seemed to be in front of you, and forms a relationship with 19-year Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen, the dreamy, precociously sexy, exciting lady every guy 15 - 90 years old wants to have in his life, so you know where this is going).

After leaving his alma matter, Zibby and Jesse stay in touch, grow closer, and start to realize they are getting deeper than many would find proper.

Will Zibby and Jesse take the relationship to the next level?

Should they?

I admire Radnor.  As the star of a major network television show (How I Met Your Mother), he could have made a few silly romantic comedies with Jessica Alba or Drew Barrymore (or started running wild in Vegas like Prince Harry with all of his syndication bucks), but he has branched out to be a writer and director of little indie films.  He was successful with last year's happythankyoumoreplease, but Liberal Arts falls short.

Radnor tries to immerse us all in ennui and sulking, but the story needs more happening to keep the audience involved on any level.  Move the plot ahead.  Any plot.  In any direction.  PLEASE!!!!  Moping can only be interesting for so long.  Eventually, something has to be revealed, not just subjecting the audience to scenes of people at all various stages of life feeling crappy (I can see that riding the subway).
Luckily, Olsen gives yet another fantastic performance that indicates why she will be a huge talent in Hollywood for years to come.  She is heartbreaking when Zibby faces rejection, intoxicating as Zibby flirts and interacts with Jesse, and charming with hardly any effort.  Olsen is the real deal.    

Radnor gives us some good scenes, especially an attack on the Twilight book series that will have haters rallying and posting it on YouTube, but Liberal Arts goes on much too long, and often fails to go deeper when trying to get deep.  But, at least, someone is trying.


1 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Liberal Arts is not rated