Starring Tina Fey & Paul Rudd
Directed by Paul Weitz
PG-13, 107 min.
As the often stressful decision deadline for college-bound high school seniors (and their parents) looms across the country, this lite ’n’ leisurely comedy arrives with a well-timed lift to the spirits.
Tina Fey, making her first movie appearance after her critically lauded NBC comedy series “30 Rock” ended its seven-season run in January, stars as an unmarried Princeton University admissions officer just beginning the process of diving into the mountainous pile of applicant folders for the next school year.
Her character, Portia, has a carefully trimmed Bonsai tree on her desk and begins each day spraying her work surface clean with a can of aerosol duster. She’s meticulously organized both in the office and at home---but that’s all about to change.
Paul Rudd plays a much less fastidious director of an “alternative” school with an exceptional student, Jeremiah (newcomer Nat Wolff), whom he’d really like Portia to consider for Princeton. He calls and asks her to come to his New Quest School for a recruitment visit.
Not surprisingly, Quest---a hippie-dippy enclave with free-roaming cows, solar-heated water, a student-made irrigation system and other granola-crunchy examples of non-mainstream education---isn’t anything like Portia’s hallowed Princeton halls. And while Jeremiah isn’t cut from typical pressed-and-tailored Ivy League cloth, either, there’s clearly something exceptional about him...and maybe something more.
It’s that “something more” that drives the movie, as Rudd’s character, John, has reason to suspect his student---an adoptee who was given up by his mother at birth---is actually Portia’s child. He wants to help Jeremiah connect with a Princeton education, certainly, but he also has a bigger connection in mind.
The humor is blended with plenty of heartwarming moments as Fey’s character gradually warms to the maternal instincts she’d been suppressing for so long---but without letting Jeremiah or anyone else know, until close to end of the movie. The running theme of parenthood, be it by nature or nurture, becomes a thread that makes “Admission” more than simply a broader comedy of mismatched---or missing---romantic partners, sight gags and punch lines.
The comedy, though, does comes bopping in from several angles, thanks a cast that includes Lily Tomlin as Portia’s feminist mom, and recurring appearances by Portia’s tweedy professor ex-boyfriend (Michael Sheen) and his stuffy new British lover (Sonya Walger).
The script was based on a 2009 novel of the same name by Jean Haniff Korelitz, a New Jersey resident who married a Princeton prof and who worked a couple of years for the school’s admissions office helping read---and weed---through applications. If “Admission” seems like a movie that gets the right feel of the pressure, emotion and occasional dark joke of the process, that’s why.
Fey, freed now from the weekly responsibilities as creator, executive producer and writer of one of TV’s most successful comedy series, seems like she’s enjoying just going with the easy flow of playing a character, pulling out some dry humor here, bits of snark, snip and sarcasm there, and misty-eyed emotion, righteous indignity or enlightened humility when the plot warrants.
She and Rudd, who appears to be carving out a comfortable niche playing charming nice guys, have an easygoing, unforced chemistry that helps you believe the realistic situation that eventually unfolds with them in the middle of it.
“Admission” can have several meanings. One refers to admittance, as into college; another is about confessing to a mistake or acknowledging a truth; and yet another can be the act of allowing someone close or inside, on an emotional level. The characters in the movie learn about the word in all those shadings.
This modest little movie probably won’t zip to the head of the class as a big hit. But it gets decent marks in my book as a fresh, sharp-witted “dram-edy” with a couple of immensely likeable stars, one that matches its warm springtime humor with a surprisingly tender heart.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
A creepy Halloween party appetizer (October 19, 2016)
Applying for Social Security (October 19, 2016)
Chili Cook-off to benefit Wilson County youth (October 19, 2016)
DRT joins Heritage Music Festival (October 19, 2016)
DRT to meet Oct. 24 in Kerrville (October 19, 2016)
Enjoy Harvest Festival in Marion (October 19, 2016)
Enter Pecan Bake Show (October 19, 2016)
Little Golden Books (October 19, 2016)
Make plans for Halloween fun and fall fests (October 19, 2016)
Meeting the needs of the community: St. Vincent de Paul (October 19, 2016)
R&B legend opens Carver season Oct. 29 (October 19, 2016)
Readers share their spooky tales, part two (October 19, 2016)
Road Runners plan Oct. 22 group run (October 19, 2016)
See country legends Oct. 22 (October 19, 2016)
Try your hand at square dancing (October 19, 2016)
Turn yard waste into gardener’s gold (October 19, 2016)
Baptist church to ring in 100 years (October 12, 2016)
Church plans Junk and Treasure Sale (October 12, 2016)
Comal Country Music Show is Oct. 18 (October 12, 2016)
Davy Crockett (October 12, 2016)
Enjoy fried chicken in Poth Oct. 23 (October 12, 2016)
Enjoy this flashy winter resident (October 12, 2016)
Join in the 2016 Rosary Crusade (October 12, 2016)
National Charity League plans celebration (October 12, 2016)
New program increases student knowledge of E-cigarette dangers (October 12, 2016)
Play bunco in La Vernia Oct. 22 (October 12, 2016)
Pondering a poignant letter from the past (October 12, 2016)
Save the date for Oct. 22 March for Life (October 12, 2016)
Should you redeem old savings bonds? (October 12, 2016)
Show Barn Cook-off approaching (October 12, 2016)
Sutherland Springs Old Town Day (October 12, 2016)
The business of aging grows more complex (October 12, 2016)
Try your luck at China Grove Lions Club Casino Night (October 12, 2016)
Atascosa County Craft Show seeks vendors (October 5, 2016)
Beautify your landscape with cacti (October 5, 2016)
Experience Oktoberfest in San Antonio (October 5, 2016)
Gilded peanuts and golden memories — recalling past Floresville Peanut Festivals (October 5, 2016)
Japan Fest set for Oct. 16 (October 5, 2016)
Meal service delivery options for seniors who don’t cook (October 5, 2016)
Oktoberfest comes to Floresville Oct. 15 (October 5, 2016)
Past Pirate champions will never be forgotten (October 5, 2016)
Readers share their ‘spooky’ tales (October 5, 2016)
Sacred Springs PowWow (October 5, 2016)
Shorter teapot (October 5, 2016)
Sinatra tribute comes to Kerrville (October 5, 2016)
Stockdale librarian updates Blue Bonnet Club members (October 5, 2016)
Sunnyside 4-H Bake Sale (October 5, 2016)
Time for turkey in Cestohowa (October 5, 2016)