I’m not the biggest Tina Fey fan but I have never seen anything with her in it that I didn’t like. I must be honest though, watching the commercials of Admissions did leave me a little leery of her performance this time. I think it was the pairing with Paul Rudd that took away my confidence in her to be able to hold this movie together.
The film is a romantic comedy about a Princeton admissions officer down on her luck in the love department. She runs into a situation when she hears that the baby she placed up for adoption 17 years ago might be applying to the prestigious New Jersey university.
The comedy isn’t particularly satisfying, but thanks to the cast and some of the odd directions taken, Admission is an intensely likable one.
Director Paul Weitz probably was looking to gain Fey’s popularity from her movie Baby Mama by casting her here. Based on a book by Jean Hanff Korelitz, the movie follows a different aspect of the main character, Portia’s (Fey), life than the written version.
When she meets Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), an awkward, intellectually gifted boy with an indifferent academic record who just might be her son, she has to decide whether to throw her professional ethics aside and become his advocate. Fey deals with the emotional content of the role the way she deals with the setbacks of a screwball comedy — blinking, tossing her hair and awkwardly bumping into things.
She makes repeated trips from the Princeton campus to a rustic alternative school in New Hampshire where students tend livestock while reading the classics. There she meets teacher, do-gooder and all around sweetheart John Pressman — a part tailor-made for the likeable Paul Rudd. As with most of Rudd’s characters, John leaves little to the imagination. He’s driven by his desire to help the unfortunate, and run away from his privileged upbringing.
Admission breaks down the college-admissions process, makes blunt statements about the “legacy” of the upper class, and reveals the cards that students and parents will play to score Ivy League acceptance.
The film, ambitious as it is, often slips into clichés about feminism, academia, postponed motherhood and alternative education.
Fey’s character in this movie was one that I didn’t think was suited for her personality. She does better in roles that allow her to be who she is. This movie called for too much seriousness on her part.
All in all, I would give the movie a “go see” but probably not a “must see.”