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‘At Middleton’: Middle-aged duo’s old college try

Straitlaced George (Andy Garcia) free spirit Edith (VerFarmiga) ditch campus tour “At Middleton.”  |   ANCHOR BAY FILMS

Straitlaced George (Andy Garcia) and free spirit Edith (Vera Farmiga) ditch the campus tour in “At Middleton.” | ANCHOR BAY FILMS

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George Andy Garcia

Edith Vera Farmiga

Audrey Taissa Farmiga

Conrad Spencer Lofranco

Anchor Bay presents a film directed by Adam Rodgers and written by Rodgers and Glenn German. Running time: 99 minutes. Rated R (for drug use and brief sexuality). Opens Friday at AMC South Barrington and on demand.

Updated: March 3, 2014 1:22PM

‘At Middleton” is an innocuous romantic comedy revolving around a brief encounter on a college campus between George (Andy Garcia) and Edith (Vera Farmiga) as they bring their 18-year-olds (his son, her daughter) to tour the school.

Dysfunctional parent-child relationships are unveiled from the start. George is trying to impress upon his jock son Conrad (Spencer Lofranco) the importance of focusing on his future and dressing well (“a young man in a tie makes a statement”). On the other end of the spectrum, Edith consistently embarrasses her tightly wound, academically driven daughter Audrey (Farmiga’s younger sister, Taissa) by not caring what others think of her startling questions and comments.

After the usual “meet cute,” a connection grows as the parents ditch the tour (and their children, who also form a tentative friendship) and embark on their own campus adventures. Wearing a bowtie and glasses, heart surgeon George is straitlaced and by the book. Edith, who owns a children’s furniture store, is an annoying free spirit, getting into mischief and dragging George along for the ride.

They climb the bell tower (where his fear of heights is comically revealed), crash (and participate in) an acting class and get stoned with young friends they encounter along the way. Farmiga and Garcia do their best with dialogue and situations that quickly become tedious.

Attempts are made to examine the loneliness of marriage and the letting go of children ready to set off on their own. Some truths about George and Edith’s underlying emotional state come out in an unconventional and interesting way, but it’s not enough to make us care about the attraction that is drawing them closer.

The most refreshing aspect of “At Middleton” is its bittersweet ending. It’s not formulaic but realistic and makes one wonder what lies ahead for this mother, father and the children they must set free to make their own ways (and mistakes) in the wider world.

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