At Middleton, the feature-length film debut of writer/director Adam Rodgers, stars Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia as two parents who meet and fall in love while accompanying their respective children on a college campus tour. The film is an innocent and pleasant romantic comedy, but often falls victim to the clichés and shortcomings of its script.
The film follows the “opposites-attract” formula, as many movies of this genre do. Things don’t start out well between Edith (Farmiga) and George (Garcia)--he thinks she’s eccentric, and she thinks he’s uptight. But the two begin to bond when they are separated from the rest of their tour group and decide to embark on their own adventure, reliving their college years. Meanwhile, Edith’s ambitious daughter Audrey, who has her sights set on nothing but studying at Middleton under one of the nation’s most distinguished professors, is left to tour the school with George’s son Conrad, who is unwilling to even consider a school like Middleton. Neither George nor Edith is able to get through to the kids, but by the end of the day, Conrad and Audrey learn a life lesson or two from one another.
We find out early on that both Edith and George are married, but that their respective spouses could not be present for the campus tour. Beyond this, the movie really doesn’t tell us much else about them. Are they unhappy with their home lives? Why are they so quick to fall in love with someone else? If not for the brief mention of their absent spouses, I probably would have assumed both were single parents. Here, the film missed an opportunity to really flesh out and explore its lead characters. By the end, we know more about Audrey and Conrad, whose storylines are meant to be secondary to that of their parents.
Even though it’s often formulaic and rather forgettable, At Middleton is an enjoyable enough romantic comedy that comes in time for Valentine’s Day.