How I have been pining for a movie to come along and pull me into a small, entertaining story without there being a huge story arc or some complex twist and this…thankfully…is it. This little romance comes along at just the right time. It’s quite simple in its premise: 35-year old Jesse Fisher (played by Josh Radnor, who also directed and wrote the screenplay), a college administrator in New York City, is called upon by his favorite college professor to speak at his retirement party. Upon his return to his former college, he finds himself attracted to a 19-year old student who seems older beyond her years. Will Jesse throw caution to the wind and pursue Zibby (played by doe-eyed Elizabeth Olsen in a breakout role) or will his conscience get the best of him?
There is so much to like about this movie and it’s easy to get lost in its easy-going banter. With Richard Jenkins in the role of the retiring professor who isn’t quite ready to say goodbye to his 37-year old career to Zac Efron as a health-happy hippy who is quirky but not overbearing, the characters in this film carry the load without seemingly batting an eye. There are no character issues here…each and every one of them plays an important role and each one is perfectly cast (especially Allison Janney as a professor who has her own issues).
Setting the scene is the college itself. Filmed at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH, the small liberal arts school has rolling greens and beautiful old architecture which accents the dialogue as the characters walk and talk about their lives and where they want their lives to go. In its own way, this reminded me of my love for MY alma mater, Ohio University, and so the location itself drew me in simply because of that. I remember spending hours talking with friends, wandering around the campus and just soaking up the atmosphere. This film highlights that and it now has me aching to return to Athens, OH to relive some old memories.
I highly recommend “Liberal Arts” on a cold winter night. Wrap up with your loved one, have some hot cocoa and enjoy this fun comedy that will warm its way into your heart…
Overall Rating: A