User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 39 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 39
  2. Negative: 2 out of 39

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  1. Sep 15, 2013
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I like Josh Radnor in CBS's "How I Met Your Mother", so I decided to watch the second film he directed.

    I liked it! Josh incorporates elaborate story lines and the transitions flow smoothly. Here are some positives and negatives about the film:

    Positives:

    -Good casting; a talented cast. Elizabeth Olsen is the shining star here. Josh Radnor puts on a good performance, but Olsen steals the show. Playing "Zibby", she had so much energy and zip to her. She delivered her lines with confidence, and it made me feel like she really became the character: a good talent to have in the acting world. I bet she will have a bright future ahead of her in Hollywood.

    -Great script with rich dialogue. For example, the post-coital scene with Jesse (Josh Radnor) and the professor (Allison Janney) was a nice touch, and you may not get what they're saying at first, but if you think about the dialogue on a deeper level, you'll get it, and the film will seem so much better than what you originally thought.

    -Overall, the movie had lots of meaning, and Jesse's journey throughout the film will stick with you and perhaps remind you of even your life, if not the life of someone you know. The movie has a familiarity that I couldn't escape.

    Negatives:

    -Ana (Elizabeth Reaser), Jesse's "girlfriend" at the end, was kind of forgettable. After seeing what an amazing performance Elizabeth Olsen put on, I think they could've gotten a better actress to play Ana. She just didn't seem like a round character, and seemed kind of like a cardboard cutout of Jesse's girlfriend instead of actually giving something memorable to the role.

    -The cinematography was up to par mostly, but in a couple shots in the beginning and throughout the movie, I noticed the editing was a little choppy and could've been tighter between shots.

    -Josh Radnor, instead of putting a new take on the role, kind of plays the usual "Ted" (his character on How I Met Your Mother) role: a romantic man who is quietly nice and innocent. Though he played the role well, I wish he would've done something different with it.

    -The scene with Peter (Richard Jenkins)and Bob (I forget the actor)was confusing to me. Peter asks for his position at the university back after he says he's retiring, and Bob informs him it's gone to someone else by now. Bob specifically says (paraphrasing) "We already have a new candidate with very good credentials...I'm sorry." The way he said it, I thought he was hinting that Jesse got the job, and I quickly thought this could've been possible, since he wanted to see Elizabeth Olsen, and that maybe he did that to be with her more. The scriptwriters should've been more clear on that and put it in a different way to not act like they're hinting at that.

    I definitely recommend this movie; see it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Except for those small flaws, the bigger picture and overall message of this film overpowers them.

    Also, I still haven't seen his directorial debut, Happythankyoumoreplease, and I definitely will be seeing that. Hopefully you'll see a review from me soon for that movie
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  2. Sep 18, 2012
    10
    Absolutely loved this movie. It was smart, funny, and heartwarming: not a combination I find that much in movies these days. For sure this is one I'll watch again at least a few times.
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: Jonathan Crocker
    Oct 1, 2012
    60
    An amusing, thoughtful romcom about love, literature and coming of age. Whatever age.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.