Admission (2013)


Release Date: March 22, 2013

Director: Paul Weitz

Stars: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff

Runtime: 117 min

Tagline: Let someone in

Portia (Tina Fey) is an admissions officer at Princeton University, who swears she just isn’t a sadist who drives on saying no. She seems to be afraid of commitment and she’s a very reserved person. This year, after so many years, Princeton is now number two. In the country or worldwide, you might ask? Who knows, the screenwriter never bothers to tell us.

Anyway, she and this other admissions officer named Corinne (Gloria Reuben) go head to head for the Dean of Admissions job, but when she meets John Pressman (Paul Rudd) and a kid named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), she must question where her priorities stand. Pressman tells Portia that Jeremiah just might be her son she gave up for adoption years ago.

Admission is a little flick all about relationships, self-sacrifice, and finding middle ground and learning it’s not all about you. The plot isn’t that good, first of all. It’s really safe and probably the most generic plot of the year thus far. It’s also rather pointless with little fairly well-formed plot points here and there. Mark (Michael Sheen), Portia’s boyfriend of ten years leaves her for another woman. Then he just keeps showing up at random moments and it really starts to get tedious. He doesn’t seem to offer much to the plot, but at least it gives Portia an excuse to use when she’s acting all moody, when she’s really being affected by finding her son. She fights for him to get into Princeton and she really seems to believe in him because he seems like some sort of prodigy with great SAT scores without taking any SAT prep classes. She also has some kind-of relationship with Paul Rudd’s character, and Rudd’s character has an adopted son who is sick and tired of travelling all over the place. Portia also has unresolved issues with her mother, Susannah (Lily Tomlin). It all seems like a lot could be going on, but at the same time, it feels like nothing is happening.

Some people who have given up a child for adoption could relate to Portia’s situation and understand that she wants to do anything for Jerimah, not being there his whole life. That’s one of the real-life emotions brought in, but that’s about it. Also, this is a bit of a commentary on how competitive schools are these days. One has to be extremely impressive to get in, and there isn’t any secret formula to getting into Princeton. In the scene where the officers are going through the best candidates, it allows for something fairly original. When they are reading the candidate, the candidate shows up in the corner, and if they get accepted, they stay put, but if they get denied, they just fall through a trapdoor. It’s a little funny. Though, this is only a tiny commentary, as the bigger plot points cloud any potential it had to prosper.

I must admit that this film’s biggest crime is that it isn’t that funny. There are chuckles throughout – like Lily Tomlin wielding a rifle – sure, but I must deny that the film has memorable laugh-out-loud moments or even any big charm. This is extremely generic and a very, very forgettable affair. When trying to even remember the funniest moments a few hours later, you might have to scratch your head for a good minute before you come up with anything. It’s fairly romantic, but it might have just worked better as a drama with some solid moments of comedy. The completely unrewarding third act forgets to make the audience laugh for a good ten minutes, as everyone’s too busy being upset and feeling sorry for themselves.

Everyone’s okay in their roles, at least. Paul Rudd is his usual self in yet another generic comedy. Tina Fey, though, has still yet to make a big splash in the movie world. Mean Girls was great, sure, but when you think of that movie, you think of Lindsay Lohan, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been victimized by Regina George,” and “Karen, you just can’t go around asking people why they’re white,” etc.; not the writer and supporting star, Tina Fey. Though, I hope she could eventually capitalize on the big screen. She still is a huge star on the small screen, because whenever someone may say: SNL female veteran, hilarious Golden Globe host, or 30 Rock, Tina Fey is often one of the first names to come to mind. Though, she’s just okay in this, and has a few funny lines.

In a nutshell: Admission tries to have a good amount of heart. Though, it usually ends up being generic, not charming enough, sometimes bland, safe, and kind-of unrewarding in the end. It just goes along and eventually gets to the end, but a lot later than you wish it to. It isn’t easy to recommend, but if you still feel the need to see it, skip it in theaters and, like the list so many Princeton applicants get put on, waitlist it.


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