I finally rented Liberal Arts. For those who have not seen or heard of it, this is a film written by Josh Radnor, known to most as Ted Mosby on the popular show How I Met Your Mother. I have been a fan of Josh since watching How I Met Your Mother, and while I may have spent some time appreciating the similarities in our Jewish upbringings, I did actually appreciate him as an actor.
As a brief review, Liberal Arts, is an indie film that encompasses the themes of growing up, the pros and cons of academia, and losing oneself into fiction. Any bookworm, liberal arts graduate, or immortal child can appreciate this film. The main character, Jesse, played by Josh Radnor, is a college admissions officer who finds himself back at his alma mater to celebrate the retirement of one of his favorite professors. While back at school (appropriately filmed at the same Liberal Arts college Radnor attended), he forges a connection with an undergraduate and finds himself reflecting back on his college days. The most beautiful part of the film was how the collection of characters provided different viewpoints into the world of a liberal arts campus. There were multiple perspectives of professor, student, graduate, and outsider. It made for a whole picture and a way to challenge ones philosophies on life and growing up. On top of all of that, the film brought to focus the power of literature and art and how those things can both forge connections and shut you out from the rest of the world. While it was not always a comfortable film to watch and there were many times I highly disagreed with the approach or characterization of individuals, I did find the film to be enlightened and fulfilling.
Which leads me back to the original point- is it okay to be following an artist as I do? Oftentimes I find myself so wrapped up in an individual that I will seek out any work they engage in. Take Joshua Jackson for example. I only started watching Fringe because his name was attached. Ironically, after getting hooked on Fringe, I fell in love with JJ Abrams and swore to watch anything he made. The cast of How I Met Your Mother (including Radnor) are such highly talented individuals that I have followed them as well. Many times, a familiar actor is all it takes for me to see a film, despite the reviews.
So, when is too much? I am not sure I will ever have an answer to that question. I sat through all the episodes of 666 Park Avenue because I have followed Dave Annable since Reunion and Brothers and Sisters (and Robert Buckley in One Tree Hill was another incentive), but was it really worth my time? The books were fun and soapy, but the show was roughly developed and weird. So why do I keep doing it? The world of TV is so small that as my basket of artists grow, I find myself drawn to too much, and then you can never stop. That being said… sometimes actor-following leads you to an enlightened piece of work that can shape your view. And while I am not sure I would call St. Elmo’s Fire completely enlightened, following Rob Lowe led me to that film, which led me to what I consider to be a most defining film for a 20-something living in Washington DC.