The Freshman is a Whiff of Fresh Air

by vpundir | February 4th, 2007

It is 5.30am, and I just got done watching “The Freshman”. I guess it is about 16 years too late to be watching this movie, but in my defence, I just picked up the DVD at Best Buy yesterday (technically) afternoon for $3.99.

I’d say it was a wise investment, even considering that DVDs are quickly being rendered obsolete by HD-DVDs and Blue Ray discs (the war between these two standards/formats is the topic of another discussion). The Freshman is a delightful situational comedy that follows young Clark as he moves from small-town Vermont to New York City to learn the art of film-making, and finds himself bang in the middle of a plot of intrigue, love, passion, crime, corruption and exotic food. It is not the outrageous kind of comedy; rather, it is the fun kind.

In spite of having roped in Brando, Bergman lets the story take centerstage, perhaps because he wrote it. Whatever his motives, I must applaud his judgment. For this movie turns out to be a whiff of fresh air amidst the stinkingly stale scene of American comedy.

The story is interesting, the characters are well-defined, and the flow is quite consistent. The comic situations are genuinely funny, and though the premise is improbable, the viewer does feel like this could happen to anybody. In other words, the treatment is very plausible and realistic. Even the comic situations are mostly slice-of-life funny.

But most importantly, perhaps, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. They’ve even thrown in a joke about casting Brando, and to complete the effect, Clark’s professor teaches using The Godfather trilogy as AV-aid.

The acting is mostly matured, subdued and underplayed (yeah, even Mr. Carmine Sabatini’s The Godfather mannerisms). Broderick does a superb Alice, while Brando gives an encore to his The Godfather. Admittedly, there are a couple of characters like Maximilian Schell’s Larry London that try to be a little loud and outrageous. Thankfully, they have not been given much footage.

The production values are good: nothing spectacular, but they get the job done efficiently and neatly.

Overall: most excellent. Definitely worth watching. And not just because the DVD sells for 3.99

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