At Middleton

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
At Middleton Movie Poster Image
Mature romance, empty nest syndrome in flat college drama.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Marriage is tough, and it doesn't always get easier over time. It's important, but sometimes scary, to examine your life's accomplishments and status. Also, sometimes young adults can act more mature than adults.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Edith and George spend a day with each other, trying to impart a few more last-minute life lessons to their teenage kids who are getting ready to go away to college, yet it's the students who seem more mature while the grown-ups are the ones who end up breaking the rules.

Violence

A few scenes show heated arguments between teens and adults.

Sex

Two middle-aged adults spy on college students kissing in a library, and later see a couple having sex from afar on the roof of a building. The two, who are both married to other people, flirt with each other all through the film, and it's unclear how far they'll take this new relationship.
 

Language

A few scenes have profanity, though the choice words are few and far between, including "s--t," "ass," and "f--k."
 

Consumerism

Almost everyone in the film seems to have Apple products, either phones, computers or both.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult drinks beer in one scene. Another extended sequence involves two adults getting very high on pot with two college students, using a bong, and then getting quite loopy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that At Middleton is a movie for adults, not because of any major iffy content, but because its themes involve the challenges of long-term marriage as well as the feelings that come along with sending kids off to college. There's some heavy flirting between adults (who are married to other people), plus some scenes where adults see college kids kissing and having sex in the distance. One scene involves adults smoking pot with college kids and acting very loopy. Expect some swearing, but not much.

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What's the story?

George (Andy Garcia) and Edith (Vera Farmiga) meet on a college tour AT MIDDLETON while escorting their teenage kids, and quickly break away to spend the day goofing off together. They seem to have a connection, and both start to question their own long-term marriages. While the children ponder their futures, the adults reevaluate their pasts and wonder how far to let this new relationship go.

Is it any good?

One can see the scaffolding of a better, subtler, more complex movie beneath this thinly woven, ill-structured version. Where to start? Perhaps the travesty of casting Garcia as an uptight, fuddy-duddy surgeon, a misuse of the great actor if there ever was one. And then there's the equally talented Farmiga, who marinates her entire performance in exaggerated effort, wringing it almost entirely, save for a few exceptions, of nuance. It's criminal, actually, especially considering the two have chemistry. (That's what saves it from being a complete wipeout. That and the basic plot, which has so much potential.)

But it's lost here amid the feckless dialogue -- feckless being a word that appears in the script often, at first in a witty flourish and, later, as a symbol of At Middleton's actual fecklessness -- and strange tonal shifts. It starts off goofy and improves much too late when it stops trying too hard to be funny and allows its themes -- the alienation parents can face when their children prepare to leave for college, among them -- to gain traction. One can see the scaffolding of a better, subtler, more complex movie beneath this thinly woven, ill-structured version. A shame it couldn't show up at Middleton.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. How is the audience supposed to feel about George and Edith's romance? Is their connection painted with approval, skepticism, or celebration?

  • How does the film depict the nature of love? Of marriage? Is it similar or different to the way movies always depict both topics?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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