I saw two amazing movies this weekend. Tonight I saw The Master. The performances were amazing, but I’m still thinking through that one so I won’t talk about it just yet. Just go see it. Joaquin Phoenix is just amazing in it and Phillip Seymour Hoffman crushes his performance.
The movie I want to talk about is Liberal Arts. The movie comes from Josh Radnor. You may know him as Ted on How I Met Your Mother. This is his second movie as a writer, star, & director (happythankyoumoreplease). The story is about Jesse, a 35 year-old, still yearning for the life of a college student, who must come to terms with his age and responsibilities. Olsen plays a 19-year-old college student who falls for Radnor’s character over a shared love of music and literature. She wants to make it work with the man but her immaturity makes it impossible for her to see the obvious obstacles.
I must say from start to finish, this was the most entertaining film I’ve seen this year. I laughed, lamented, choked up a bit, laughed some more and found myself relating with the character of Jesse more then I thought I would. Radnor is great as an actor in this movie. Probably because he’s playing a somewhat skewed version of his HIMYM character so the familiarity is there. Elizabeth Olsen is fantastic in it. I’ve seen two of her movies now and it just amazes me how great an actress she is. A couple of acting vets steal their scenes though. First, Allison Janney is just wonderful in her role as one of Jesse’s favorite college professors and just steals almost every scene she’s in. Why she doesn’t work more is beyond me. One of the most underrated actors in Hollywood though is Richard Jenkins. Playing Jesse’s favorite retiring professor, Jenkins scenes are heartbreaking, but filled with passion and knowledge. A couple of times I felt myself choking up with him on screen. One of the great surprises I had was the role of Nate played by Zac Effron. Now, I hate everything this kid has done…until now. In just a couple of scenes, Effron completely changed my view on him as an actor. He was hilarious and good.
This movie hit home for me. A lot of the questions and experiences that Jesse is going through I myself have been facing lately as I inch closer to 35. Radnor really hits on this as a writer and draws some of the same conclusions I have in my own inner reflection. How I Met Your Mother may be wrapping up here in the next year or so, but if happythankyoumoreplease and Liberal Arts are any indication, we’ll be seeing Radnor around for awhile. I highly recommend Liberal Arts for anyone out there looking for a smart & funny movie.
p.s. I immensely enjoyed the Q&A session by Josh Radnor after the screening of the movie. (Can all movies be like this???)