{2jtab: Movie Review}

Admission - Movie Review


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2 stars

Admission, the new movie starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd is being billed as a romantic comedy, which makes sense given its two main stars are currently among the hottest go-to properties for cinematic fun and yucks. What doesn’t make much sense, however, is the amount of sadness and discouragement that hovers over the proceedings, completely masking what little romantic chemistry is generated between the two leads.

Meant as a deftly nuanced, satirical essay that finds ridicule in the highly competitive nature of the college admissions process, the film mostly succeeds as it pulls back the curtain on the ridiculous - and often sadly humorous - shenanigans faced by a college admissions officer.  But it’s when the film shifts into serious mode, during its latter half, that Karen Croner’s script, under direction from Paul Weitz (About a Boy), bogs down in weighty themes of rediscovery, family, and reluctant parenthood. Weitz and company clearly have some funny things to say about Ivy League academia (the story is adapted from a novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz), they just don’t know how to say it.

We can’t blame Tina Fey for wanting to dial down her comedic wackiness in favor of a more dramatic role. All the funny greats eventually do. In Admission she’s Portia, a strict, judgmental Princeton University admissions officer coming unraveled after recently finding herself single when self-absorbed, live-in boyfriend Mark (Michael Sheen) leaves her for another woman, who he has impregnated with twins.

Her newfound single-ness comes in quite handy, however, when John Pressman (Paul Rudd) comes calling - literally - with an invitation to check out his alternative New Quest school where milking cows and planting sustainable gardens take precedence over geometry and world history. Specifically, he wants her to consider gifted wunderkind Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) who shows promise of brilliance and who may also be the son that she secretly gave up for adoption years ago while in college. Now, for the big dilemma: can an admissions counselor fighting for the newly vacated Dean of Admissions position set aside her ironclad conservative convictions long enough to help squeeze a questionably qualified kid - who may be her son - past the tough admissions process?

Fey is up to the dramatic challenge as she touches on several brilliant moments of big heart and emotional depth. She takes her Portia on a well-rounded evolution, giving her a tough, crusty surface while also providing a gooey center as she struggles with her own moral code and the unfamiliar role of parenthood.

But outshining everyone is Lilly Tomlin as Portia’s mother Susannah, an accomplished author and intellectual whose high expectations for her daughter have frequently put a strain on their relationship. Aging female actors are finding a nice little niche as monster mother figures of late. Shirley MacLaine was brilliant as the crabby foil in last year’s Bernie, and while Jane Fonda failed to find her way in Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, it’s nice they’re getting the work. Tomlin is this film’s highlight.

Fans of Fey’s self-deprecating quick-wittedness and Rudd’s deadpan persona may find themselves a bit disappointed as both show only brief flashes, and neither is able to drum up much romantic chemistry. The biting irony of the college admissions process is mostly lost as well, even though a big portion of the closing moments are spent with Portia trying to convince her colleagues to take a chance on Jeremiah’s potential. Taken a bit deeper, perhaps into the realm of wicked satire, the personal struggles and potential corruption surrounding the admissions process might have meant a better connection with the audience.

Potential abounds in Admission, and the draw of Ivy League academia could certainly have become a wonderful playground for both skillfully handled comedy and emotion-tinged drama. But as it is, Admission disappointingly fails to make the grade as either.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Admission - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some sexual material.
107 mins.
: Paul Weitz
: Karen Croner
Paul Rudd; Tina Fey; Michael Sheen; Lily Tomlin
: Comedy | Drama | Romance
Get admitted.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You all want to know the secret formula for getting in."
Focus Features
Official Site:
Release Date: March 22, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.

Synopsis: A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

No details available.

{2jtab: Trailer}