The reason it took me so long to see Liberal Arts is because for whatever reason, I refused to watch it outside of a RedBox rental. Yet somehow it was rented out for months, and I just got slapped in the mouth over and over again.
That doesn’t make any sense. But if you saw my review for Happythankyoumoreplease, you would have seen my comparisons between Josh Radnor and Zach Braff, getting their indie movies on. But now Josh Radnor did a second one? Come on, Braff is way behind now. Stop it Radnor.
But please, continue being the old dude at college parties. That’s for cool people.
Jesse Fisher (Radnor) is a 40 something man living in NYC and just being kind of miserable. He has a job, has a life, but there is no fun. But when his professor, Peter Hoberg (Richard Jenkins), announces his retirement (in mother fucking Iowa) and wants one of his favorite students to show up. Sure. Why not. It is his favorite professor too.
Well, during the festivities, he meets Edie Parker (Elizabeth Olsen), a 20-year old college student who is all sorts of perky and happy. In fact, they go on a date. Not weird. Kind of weird. Nothing happens. But they agree to write each other and exchange music.
That gets them all excited. Then they see each other again. For sex? Maybe for sex. He also meets an old teacher he used to like (Allison Janney), a depressed individual who likes the same books he does (John Magaro) and a person who may not be real who is helping him achieve his desires (Zac Efron).
Aww yeah. Again, maybe sex will happen. Maybe.
Is this sex? I don’t even know.
So what happens when Josh Radnor tries to out indie Zach Braff? Well, it actually works out really well.
First off, Elizabeth Olsen is the younger sister of the twins. She also seems to be totally sane. She won a lot of awards for her role in Martha Marcy May Marlene, but I haven’t seen it yet. Well, clearly I should, because Olsen rocked this movie as well.
Liberal Arts deals with a lot of tough subjects. There are multiple supplots outside of the “Go to college, maybe deflower someone who really likes you” subplot, yet they all also deal with Radnor’s character. One man, many subplots. I love the random ones with the depressed kid, and a dazed and confused Zac Efron. It also took me awhile to recognize him as Efron, not at all expecting him to have a role like that.
There are plenty of awkward scenes as well, dealing with a man who is trying to find his place in life, and going back to his roots to figure it out. Everyone acts well in it, and it doesn’t go the way you’d expect it. Shit, there is even a discussion about Twilight in it, without mentioning the book title.
I’d say check it out. You will realize that Radnor might be a better director/writer than a sitcom star.
3 out of 4.