Synopsis: Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) and Paul Rudd (This is 40) are paired for the first time on-screen in Admission, the new comedy/drama directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Weitz (About a Boy, In Good Company), about the surprising detours we encounter on the road to happiness.
Release Date: March 22, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy
On paper, it would seem that Admission brings a comedy dream team together. “Saturday Night Live” alumni Tina Fey has just wrapped up her successful sitcom “30 Rock,” and Paul Rudd has successfully moved from sideman to main man with Our Idiot Brother and Wanderlust. So, are these two comedic geniuses effective when paired up? Well, yes and no…they’re effective, just not in a comedic way.
Admission stars Tina Fey as Portia Nathan, an admissions counselor at Princeton University. While touring schools in an effort to draw applicants, she travels to the Quest Academy, an alternative high school that is run by John Pressman (Rudd), one of her college classmates. John is adamant that she meet one of his most promising students, a young man named Jeremiah Balakian (Nat Wolff from “The Naked Brothers Band”) who, despite having horrible grades, scored amazingly high on his SATs and aced his Advanced Placement exams, even though he didn’t even take the classes. Although Jeremiah wants to go to Princeton, John has another reason for wanting Portia to meet him; he believes that Jeremiah is the son that Portia gave up for adoption eighteen years before.
Paul Weitz directs Admission as though he wants to put more distance between himself and his lowest denominator roots. There is not a trace of the crude, rude teenage comedy that was the backbone of American Pie, leaving only the heartfelt dramedy that he fostered in films like About a Boy. Hardcore laughs are sacrificed, but Admission is a much stronger film because of it. Adapted from the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz, the screenplay was written by Karen Croner (One True Thing), and is both surprisingly smart and incredibly entertaining. The genre is a bit confusing: not funny enough to be a comedy, not serious enough to be a drama, not sappy enough to be a romance. However, regardless of tonal ambiguity, it’s a really fun movie. It’s well made, both technically and artistically, and engaging from beginning to end.
Thematically, the title of the film serves a double meaning; not only does it apply to the application process to the college, but it also serves as a challenge to Portia to come to grips with her past. As much as Jeremiah seeks an admission, Portia is forced to a make one. Just as Jeremiah’s ultimate goal is acceptance, Portia wants it, too – acceptance from her peers, her mother, and from herself. Philosophy and esotericism aside, Admission is about much more than simply getting into college; it’s about soul searching, and coming to peace with what is found.
The cast that has been assembled in Admission is great. Tina Fey and Paul Rudd have a great chemistry onscreen together, and this film proves that both of them can be just as effective at playing straight roles as they are at doing comedy. The roles of Portia Nelson and John Pressman are not challenging roles, and it does seem that they may have been written with Fey and Rudd in mind, but each of the actors does a good job at being believable while walking the line between comedy and drama.
The supporting cast is just as strong, if not stronger. Nat Wolff’s Jeremiah is wonderful; he’s got the brooding, know-it-all kid thing down pat. Legendary comedienne Lily Tomlin (Nine to Five) is expectedly stellar as Suzanne, Portia’s mother. Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride) plays a small but “inconceivable” part as Clarence, Dean of Admissions at Princeton, and is great as well. While the entire ensemble is not completely memorable, the key parts in Admission are all very well cast and performed.
The cast in Admission kind of misrepresents the movie. With a cast that includes Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, and Lily Tomlin, Admission seems like it would be non–stop belly laughs. The truth is that it’s not incredibly funny, but that’s fine; it’s not really a comedy. Sure, there are some funny lines here and there that are good for some grins, but the film is too much of a heart-warming, feel-good movie to be overly hysterical. The funniest elements are Tomlin’s diatribes and antics; Fey and Rudd seem to be reserved, but that’s exactly what the script calls for – it’s clever, but not uproarious. Admission is a highly entertaining film, intelligently written and well acted, but hardly a comedy, and not very funny. Put simply, it’s just a good movie.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Paul Weitz
- Screenwriter(s): Karen Croner
- Cast: Paul Rudd (John Pressman)Michael Sheen (Mark)Tina Fey (Portia Nathan) Lily Tomlin (Susannah)Wallce Shawn (Clarence)Nat Wolf (Jeremiah Balakian)
- Cinematographer: Declan Quinn
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Stephen Trask
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA