Saturday, April 12, 2014

At Middleton Blu-Ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Academy Award nominees, Andy Garcia (Oceans Eleven, City Island) and Vera Farmiga (A&E’s Bates Motel, Up in the Air), star as straight-laced George and eccentric Edith, to strangers who meet on the children’s campus tour at the idyllic Middleton College.  Failing comically to connect with their kids, George and Edith play hooky together, ditching the official tour for a carefree adventure reminiscent of their own college years.  But what begins as an afternoon of fun soon becomes a revealing and enlightening experience that will change their lives forever.  A light-hearted romance for adults on the surface, At Middleton is a deeply moving portrait of roads not taken and the timelessness of youth.  Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story), Spencer Lofranco (Angelina Jolie’s forthcoming Unbroken), Peter Riegert (Dads), and Tom Skerritt (Picket Fences), also star in this story about what can happen on your first day of college – no matter who you are.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Straight-laced, bow-tied, heart surgeon George and free-spirit Edith are driving their children to visit Middleton College.   The first meet when Edith takes George’s parking spot because he was trying to back in.  When they end up in the same tour group, both parents embarrass their children and annoy each other.
George and Edith end up ditching the tour group and experiencing Middleton on their own.  As they get to know each other, they begin having a good time, stealing bicycles, sneaking into church bell towers, joining a drama class.  As the day goes on, George and Edith realize that they aren’t happy with their respective spouses and that this day they are experiencing together is one of the most fun days they’ve had in a very long time.

While George and Edith are off having a great day, their children, Conrad and Audrey, are not.  Their tour is not what they expected, Audrey’s idol is taking a sabbatical and leaving the university… the sole reason she wanted to go to Middleton, and Conrad just doesn’t know what he wants to do and ends up in the radio station, where he realizes it’s not that bad and he kind of likes it. After confiding in each other and get high with a couple students, George and Edith realize that their wonderful day is coming to an end and true to the foreshadowing by the tour guide at the beginning of the movie, they have fallen in love.  They meet Conrad and Audrey in the parking lot and each hand over the keys to the kids for the drive home.  Though they are in love, they know they can’t be together and go on with their separate lives, only having that one day together.

I really liked At Middleton.  When it came out in theaters, I was a little unsure about it, but when given the chance to review it, I jumped.  It’s a sweet story about people who find themselves and fall in love.  There were a few minutes where the story dragged a bit, but it picked back up again and ended on a really sweet but somewhat sad note.  Vera Farmiga is a great actress and I love her in everything she does.  Andy Garcia doesn’t age.  He looks the same as he does in every movie, save for a little grey in his hair.  He did a really good job playing the buttoned up, conservative George, who finally unties his bow tie and loosens up enough to have some fun.  At Middleton is a really cute movie, perfect for date night.
Video (3 ½ out of 5 stars)
At Middleton’s 1080p widescreen 1.78:1 presentation is good.  The colors are bright and natural and blend well together.  Nothing gets washed out and everything is sharp.  Skin tones are natural and scenes in darker light were still sharp and crisp.
Audio (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Dolby True HD 5.1 audio was really low.  I had to turn the volume WAY up just to hear anything.  The dialogue was good, but so low, it was annoying.  I’m sure if I saw it in the theater, it would have been better.  Even when the characters were yelling, it was soft.  I had to rewind a couple times just to make sure I heard what was being said. 
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
I was disappointed that there are only two special features.  I think they could have done so much more with the features.
  • Outtakes – Eleven minutes of bloopers and outtakes.  I found myself giggling at them all.  These are my favorite kind of special features.
  • “There was a Day” – Vocal and Lyrics by Andy Garcia, Music by Arturo Sandoval and Andy Garcia, Arrangement by Arturo Sandoval – Stills of the movie set to music by Andy Garcia.  Who knew he could compose a song and sing it?

Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
At Middleton is a perfect date night movie.  Grab a glass of wine and your significant other, or have a girl’s night and watch this sweet romantic-comedy.  It’s one of those movies that gives everyone hope of finding happiness, even for just one day.  The sub-story of parents visiting colleges with their kids is sweet, with Edith and George realizing that they are going to have to let their kids go and grow up.  This is definitely a movie for my collection.

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