Movie Review
At Middleton
At Middleton poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published February 1, 2014
US Release: January 31, 2014

Directed by: Adam Rodgers
Starring: Andy Garcia , Vera Farmiga

R for drug use and brief sexuality
Running Time: 99 minutes
C-
75 of 111
It direly wants to be looked at as a darling little production but Farmiga is the only thing worth praising.
At Middleton is an independent film straight out of the film festival circuit and stars Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga. Garcia plays a father of an incoming freshman in college and Farmiga plays a mother of an incoming freshman in college. In the first scene, each of them is driving their kid to a college university tour and both are trying to find out if this college is what they are looking for. They meet in the parking lot after Farmiga cheats and takes the parking space that he was trying to get, and they get to know each other after they veer off from the college tour together and begin their own tour of the campus. Each of them seems to be unhappy in each of their marriages and they bond over reminiscing about college. Garcia is an uptight father who wants to bond with his son but has trouble doing so, and Farmiga is a free-spirited mother with a daughter who looks just like her and carries on the same traits.

I’d like to talk about more of the ensuing story but not much happens and it is bare in substance. It wants to be a mature grown-up film about the generational gap between parents and kids and what it feels like to go off to college for the first time, and how parents feel touring a university with their kids, but it fails at delivering anything deep and it’s quite a bore to sit through. Farmiga is the real star here and elevates a very weak screenplay and she is an utter joy to watch in this role, while Garcia is weak and seems content on gliding along on a tired cliché of a stubborn father who has trouble loosening up. They are complete opposites, but she finds him adorable, and he finds her enchanting. They start off touring the campus with their group but they get bored and decide to give their own tour. At the same time, their son and daughter are also hitting it off on the tour and it’s partly about them.

The film wants to be a cute love story between two adults who are opposites and should probably be together instead of in their real marriages, but the writing is pretty terrible and doesn’t provide a decent platform to turn this into anything of substance. The sense of humor is painstakingly cute and it’s designed to please people who are fans of the sitcom approach where anything remotely cute or formulaic is worthy of a giggle. It strives for heavy quirkiness but the writing is too poor to make a mark. Farmiga goes up and beyond the call of duty with her role and makes it seem like she has something here and she radiates in this role beautifully, whereas Garcia is really boring in his performance and fails to rise up against poor writing. He also co-produced the film, which means he was passionate about the material, but the writing is something we’ve seen a million times from a million made-for-TV movies. The movie has extremely little cinematic value and I could picture stumbling upon it on basic television. It uses various clichés and formulaic devices as the big punch-lines, which frustrated me tremendously.

Though I will give it credit for not ending the way I had expected, the film still was a failure in delivery. It direly wants to be looked at as a darling little production but Farmiga is the only thing worth praising. Independent films are supposed to boast strong qualities in general and give solid support as to why independent films should exist, and yet Middleton seems perfectly fine with being very run-of-the-mill. One highlight performance isn’t nearly enough to recommend a film, and that’s all Middleton offers.
Lee's Grade: C-
Ranked #75 of 111 between Maps to the Stars (#74) and Guardians...Galaxy (#76) for 2014 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2928 graded movies
A0.4%
B29.5%
C62.0%
D8.1%
F0.0%
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