Year Released: 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 84 minutes
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Let’s get this out there right now: I think James LeGros is an incredible actor and I light up whenever I hear he’s in the cast of a film I’m watching. Seriously, I even enjoy Wishful Thinking (look it up). And, happily, Welcome to Academia has some LeGros for us all to enjoy… and that’s not even what makes this movie so good!
I’ve had a number of friends now who have gone on to teaching at universities in various capacities, and I’ve often marveled at the disturbing tales they’ve told me involving some of their power-mad colleagues; I’ve even been privy to a few inter-university faculty emails that were so unbelievably ridiculous in their needless drama and intrigue, I had a hard time swallowing that these people not only exist, but that they’re actually professors. Welcome to Academia does a wonderful job of showing a fictional account of those disturbing truths of which I was already aware.
Set at the fictional Victorian University, Welcome to Academia focuses on the sex, lies and betrayal rampant when one professor’s power play gets everyone’s ambitions up. Womyn’s studies professor Villanueva (Callie Thorne) wants the Dean job that was recently handed over to Professor Williams (James LeGros) by the departing President Kronsky (Robert Hogan), and she’s not alone. Professor Hansen (Laila Robins), former wife of Professor Williams, also has her eye on the job, and new President Weldman (Matt Servitto) is open to suggestions from both women, in whatever way they wish to make said suggestions (hint hint), on how best to decide a new Dean, while also eliminating Williams. And then there’s Professor Valentine, an evil, little man with just enough sleaze, and anger issues, to seem to want to help anyone, as long as someone gets hurt in the process.
And while the chess board shakes as the pieces move around, graduate student Sophie (Jess Weixler) is trying to get her doctorate, but she’s run into a bit of a problem. Her advisor is Professor Williams, and Professors Valentine, Villanueva and Hansen are all sitting on the committee, deciding whether she’ll get that doctorate her not. And since everyone has something to gain, or lose, allegiances are made, betrayals ever-present and innocence lost.
Playing out like Shakespearean play, this film is nothing but people of various intellectual ugliness screwing each other over in any and every way they can think to do so, all for our enjoyment. Every actor is a different shade of despicable, and even my hero James LeGros plays his Revis Williams as a man who isn’t clean so much as just playing the game as painlessly as he can. No one leaves untarnished, and it’s nice to be on the outside staring in on the carnage rather than being stuck in the midst.
This film is funny and uncomfortable, but in that oh so good way. Maybe I found additional enjoyment because of my fore-knowledge that the things I saw in the film were not all that unusual, and maybe I do have a predisposition to dig films Jame LeGros appears in, but I loved every bit of Welcome to Academia.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.
Posted on February 17, 2012 in Reviews by Mark Bell
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