Tina Fey Paul Rudd Gloria Reuben Lily Tomlin
I don’t think most of us got as up close and personal with our college admissions counselor as one young man does in this film. However, I was one of those “rare exceptions” Fey’s admissions counselor refers to in the film, so perhaps this does actually happen. What doesn’t happen, however, is the ridiculousness the remainder of the film soaks itself in all the while trying to pull a dramatic and touching conclusion out of nowhere. Director Paul Weitz has given us some off-kilter films throughout his career, films that are slightly abnormal like About a Boy or In Good Company. There are a handful of charming moments in Admission, but sadly most of them come at the very end.
For 16 years now, Portia Nathan (Fey) has been one of the toughest admissions counselors at the prestigious Princeton University. When asked what the secret is to getting into the university she always has the same diverting answer, that there is no secret, and tells eager high school applicants to be themselves. While speaking to a new school hidden away in the woods, she meets John Pressman (Rudd) who not only wants to flirt with her, but presents her with a birth certificate claiming that one of his students is the child she gave up for adoption when she was in college.
What I didn’t like about the direction of the film and the story was how important they make the university seem, as if getting denied is failure for life. While this is a comedy, and much is made about the ridiculousness of how parents and students treat the application process to college, the humor doesn’t elevate the drama going on around it. Admission wants to tackle motherhood issues, the politics of the admission process, and be a love story all simultaneously and doesn’t do a great job at either. Fey (Date Night, Baby Mama) is her typical charming self, although a bit diluted; I prefer her with more jabs.
Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, I Heart Huckabees) is a blast from the past in the role as the independent, gun-toting mother. Rudd, much like Fey, has become typecast in this type of middle man, boy next door, everyman persona that doesn’t seem to be far from his real life persona. Perhaps the film’s most annoying element was how someone goes from being child-repellant to having motherly instinct’s overnight. Weitz does detour the film from a predictable ending and it almost makes up for the unbelievable behavior that precedes it. Final Thought – Plagued by too much silliness and not enough drama.
By: Dustin Chase
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
The title of this film is something of a double entendre in that the main character Portia (Tina Fey) works as an admissions officer at Princeton, and the story contains several personal admissions characters make over the course of time. Portia has worked at Princeton for 16 years, and is vying with another woman, Corinne (Gloria Reuben), to be appointed head after the current chief retires. Both are hard working, competent women who desperately want the job.
Complications for Portia enter in after John (Paul Rudd) interjects himself into her life, in the interest of seeing that one of his students is accepted. She is very proper, and tries to maintain objectivity and appropriate boundaries, but he has a special hook that draws her in. Actually, he has several hooks, and before long, she is emotionally compromised. As the story plays out, it becomes more and more outrageous, and that is the main problem I had with the movie. It is too farcical, which detracts from some of the realistic situations and depth of emotions experienced by the characters, devolving into an extended situation comedy.
Part of the farce involves rather stereotypical portraits of women. Yes, after a typically rendered cat fight between Portia and Corinne, they do make up and begin to cooperate with one another, which goes against many stereotypes in films. But Portia is drawn as highly emotional and unable to maintain her professional boundaries—not believable with the way she is portrayed in the beginning. The story seems to imply that if such a woman is exposed to children and maternal instincts, she will melt every time, setting aside her decision not to have children and compromising her values and professional self. Portia’s tough mother, played expertly by Lily Tomlin, is another stereotype who melts and suddenly becomes maternal as soon as a man comes into her life.
I enjoyed very much two of Director Paul Weitz’ previous films—Being Flynn and About a Boy—and this one is entertaining and even absorbing at times. There are a number of heartfelt scenes, particularly those involving the two kids, teenager Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) and younger Nelson (Travaris Spears), and the chemistry and skills of Paul Rudd, Tina Fey, and Lily Tomlin are eye-catching. If the comedic parts had been reined in a bit, I would say the film might have been first-rate.
Grade: B By Donna R. Copeland