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Parents' Guide to

Liberal Arts

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Thoughtful romance mulls impact of large age difference.

Movie PG-13 2012 97 minutes
Liberal Arts Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Excellent film!

I wanted to see this movie so bad and finally did. I liked it, but was expecting a little more out of it. It was refreshing and real, none of that teen romance chick flick stuff. Some quotes in the film really stuck with me, characters were easy-going and enlightening. I loved the genuine feel throughout. Elizabeth Olsen is simply wonderful and her character was very down to earth. It's basically about an upbeat college student named Zibby (Olsen) who meets a kind man in his mid 30's who's visiting his favorite professor where he went to college. Both instantly attracted to each other, they wind up spending a lot of time together. When they part for a short while, they keep their friendship alive by writing real handwritten letters to each other (no emails or other use of technology) sharing stories and more until they need to see each other again. However, their age difference interferes with their desire to get closer and ultimately, in the end, they must make a huge choice. It's a tad slow sometimes but you really get into the story because it's that great! Violence is not an issue at all. Language is not a big deal, some common words throughout but no "f" words except for the middle finger. Sexual content includes some talk about sleeping with older men, a one night stand shown in the dark with some sex sounds but not explicit, gentle flirting and innocent kissing. There is drinking at college parties, a girl gets hungover. Smoking is mild. Perfectly fine for 13+!!

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (2 ):

The ideas that propel LIBERAL ARTS are interesting and even mildly thought-provoking. Who among us hasn't, at some point, tired of the daily grind of a grown-up life? Especially one like Jesse's: He's in an unimpressive apartment in a difficult city interviewing pre-collegiate kids full of hope, kids with so much ahead of them. It's these observations that make Liberal Arts a joy to watch. That and its circuitous but still refreshing plot in search of a happy ending. Everything until Jesse finds himself alone with Zibby in her dorm room has spark, the crackle of possibility. (Plus, Richard Jenkins! The man elevates anything he's in.) And its hard left turn into a direction different from what you might expect is surprising in a pleasant way.

Still, what does come next seems moot at that point, and Liberal Arts loses its footing a bit. The ending feels like an afterthought; we want to be back in the thick of Zibby and Jesse's flirtation, back when something beautiful appears all too possible. But alas. Isn't it pretty to think so?

Movie Details

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