Metascore
55

Mixed or average reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 24
  2. Negative: 2 out of 24
  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Sep 7, 2012
    91
    Olsen, moody and apple-cheeked and intellectually avid, proves a true star: She turns being wiser than her years into an authentic generational state.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Sep 19, 2012
    88
    There is a word to explain why this particular film so appealed to me. Reader, that word is "escapism." If you understand why I used the word "reader" in just that way, you are possibly an ideal viewer for this movie.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Sep 13, 2012
    88
    An artful blend of tenderness and sharp, clear-eyed observations. Its characters talk like real people -- who also happen to be smart, appealing and thoughtful.
  4. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Sep 30, 2012
    80
    It lacks filmmaking fireworks but Liberal Arts is a B+ for Josh Radnor: strong writing, great performances (Olsen is the real deal) and a touching, upbeat tale for the big-brained and big-hearted.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Sep 28, 2012
    75
    Sticks to the syllabus of a decidedly minor movie, but its humanities faculty is first-rate.
  6. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Sep 21, 2012
    75
    Liberal Arts is a parfait - a light, enjoyable concoction that goes down easily but doesn't linger. The movie is great "in the moment" but may be difficult to recall with any specificity after time has elapsed.
  7. Reviewed by: Loren King
    Sep 20, 2012
    75
    Radnor's script is more bittersweet than laugh-out-loud funny.
  8. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Sep 27, 2012
    67
    More convincing are the performances from Jenkins and Allison Janney, as another of Jesse's old profs. Both these pros bring more depth to their supporting characters than either of the promising, but, alas, young, leads do to theirs.
  9. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Sep 13, 2012
    63
    Radnor and Olsen are so funny and touching you want to say happythankyoumoreplease. What you get is frustratingly less. Still, to the movie's refreshingly uncynical credit, you feel for them.
  10. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Sep 12, 2012
    63
    Liberal Arts provides a peek into what makes Josh Radnor tick, and what he cares about outside his mainstream-targeted sitcom.
  11. Reviewed by: Jonathan Crocker
    Oct 1, 2012
    60
    An amusing, thoughtful romcom about love, literature and coming of age. Whatever age.
  12. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Sep 13, 2012
    60
    The bookish group at the heart of this talky film is having such a grand time trading tart exchanges their mood proves infectious. The sparring helps offset some of the contrivances that make Liberal Arts less buttoned up than it should be - so an A for effort and a C for execution.
  13. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Sep 11, 2012
    60
    There's too much going on here - of a winning, thoughtful nature - to dismiss Josh Radnor's back-to-college romance as the nostalgia bath it mainly is.
  14. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    Sep 7, 2012
    60
    A coming-of-middle-age comedy running on somewhat less than a full tank, Liberal Arts possesses enough comedic moments to approach crowd-pleasing status.
  15. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Sep 30, 2012
    50
    Nostalgia for the groves of academe weighs heavily on Liberal Arts, which both exploits and undermines romanticized memories of campus life.
  16. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Sep 13, 2012
    50
    The harder Mr. Radnor strains to make you love his alter ego, the more resistant you become.
  17. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Sep 13, 2012
    50
    In its lesser moments, of which there are more, Liberal Arts calls to mind more the spirit of an alumni magazine, so bathed in nostalgia for academia that you expect autumn leaves to flutter down to the theater floor.
  18. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Sep 11, 2012
    50
    Still, in the central relationship, the writer-director shows an understanding of human interaction that marks his second feature as a quantum leap beyond his stilted debut, "Happythankyoumoreplease."
  19. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Sep 7, 2012
    50
    This makes the film feel perilously close to widescreen sitcom, as do montages of New York set to Beethoven's Sixth Symphony.
  20. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Sep 12, 2012
    42
    Liberal Arts has the tony look and feel of a vintage Woody Allen movie, but the sophistication is all surface-level. Radnor will never ascend to Allen's rarified realm, but judging by his forgettable first two features, he could give Ed Burns competition.
  21. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Sep 27, 2012
    40
    Liberal Arts is not unlikable: There are some intelligent observations about how humans woo, and the film is so suffused with sincerity you want to give it a pat on the head just for trying so hard.
  22. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Sep 13, 2012
    40
    Liberal Arts is at its most nauseating when we hear Jesse and Zibby read their oh-so-self-aware love letters.
  23. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Sep 13, 2012
    38
    Liberal Arts comes to us produced by Josh Radnor. Written by Josh Radnor. Starring Josh Radnor. Josh Radnor is much like Woody Allen, except for the talent.
  24. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Sep 14, 2012
    30
    Jesse's nobility is one of the primary reasons Liberal Arts is so hard to take.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 42 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Nov 13, 2014
    8
    "Liberal Arts" 10 Scale Rating: 7.5 (Very Good) ...

    The Good: Quirky and chock full of college nostalgia for thirty-somethings, "Liberal
    "Liberal Arts" 10 Scale Rating: 7.5 (Very Good) ...

    The Good: Quirky and chock full of college nostalgia for thirty-somethings, "Liberal Arts" was easy for me to relate to. While Radnor was mostly serviceable, Elizabeth Olsen and Richard Jenkins turn in fantastic performances, especially Jenkins. Not laugh out loud funny but witty and clever enough to be chuckle-worthy with entertaining dialogue.

    The Bad: One character in particular (played by Zac Efron) was very random and missed the target. He was put in to be some sort of comic relief and seemed out of place. Radnor himself was decent, but he always seems to be the same guy in everything I see him in ... Ted Mosby, architect from "How I Met Your Mother". He just seems to lack the range to play anyone else.
    Full Review »
  2. May 11, 2014
    7
    somewhat surreal but enlightening story. It elaborates the people whose lives were overturned through some groundbreaking experience that aresomewhat surreal but enlightening story. It elaborates the people whose lives were overturned through some groundbreaking experience that are inevitable in ones' path of life: retirement, unrequited love..... Overall the movie worth time. Full Review »
  3. Dec 19, 2013
    7
    Overall Liberal Arts if a very respectable first film for Josh Radnor. It is filled with misunderstandings, broken hearts, and some toughOverall Liberal Arts if a very respectable first film for Josh Radnor. It is filled with misunderstandings, broken hearts, and some tough life lessons. The characters are likeable and memorable, the dialogue is very poignant at times, and the film manages to stay away from the cliches that are so common in Hollywood dramas. Full Review »