There's one thing on this planet that will stress out even the most mellow and easy going of parents anywhere, getting their son or daughter into the right college or university. "Admission" takes us to the other side of the process as an admissions officer gets abnormally involved in the life of a potential applicant to the university that she works for and how that might lead to the happy ever after that she didn't even know that she wanted.
Straight-laced Princeton University admissions officer Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former college classmate, the free-wheeling John Pressman (Paul Rudd). Pressman has surmised that Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), his gifted yet very unconventional student, might well be the son that Portia secretly gave up for adoption many years ago. Soon, Portia finds herself bending the rules for Jeremiah, doing anything and everything that she can to get him into Princeton, putting at risk the life she thought she always wanted, yet finally finding her way to a surprising and exhilarating life and romance she never dreamed of.
Admittedly it's a little less gonzo then it sounds, but at its core "Admission" is a sweet little love story about finding what makes you happy while still managing to give a bit of a backhand slap to the entire college/university admissions process which for a number of the ivy league schools is more than a little antiquated and even ridiculous. Director Paul Weitz keeps his streak of awkwardly sweet dramedy's going here with this film and it mostly works as the story moves at a natural but predictable progression filled with some likeable characters that were mostly well developed with a few exceptions. Based on the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz and adapted for the screen by Karen Croner all our main characters were fairly well developed and it didn't take a lot of pushing for us to get behind them in victory and defeat. Nothing in this film really explores any new territory or ideas in this film but it is all about the execution incredibly solid and spearheaded by two very reliable leads.
While she will invariably be saddled with audiences viewing her as frustrated in love TV writer Liz Lemon on "30 Rock" for the past seven years, Tina Fey knows how to get a laugh when she needs to and how to be sympathetic when she needs to as well and works just fine as the high strung Portia Nathan. Playing his variation on the very man, Paul Rudd is born for the likeable quirky guy since he seems to play it quite a bit, and this time it worked well enough. Sadly the supporting cast is where this film is pretty uneven, Michael Sheen plays her stuck up ex-boyfriend English professor Mark and is completely wasted as he gets some of the funnier lines in the movie but he only pops in and out at random intervals after the first act of the film and Gloria Reuben as her in office rival was kind of rigid and lifeless in the role as any tension always felt manufactured. Lily Tomlin and Wallace Shawn get a few moments but the young man who is her potential son (Nat Wolff) just stayed on the screen and really had no life about him making for a dull character that no one cared about so why should she?
When all is said and done with "Admission" it is a slightly above average dramedy that fans of Rudd and Fey will easily get behind, but while this subject matter did take a couple of small shots at the current structure of academia it felt like it could have done so much more to generate bigger laughs and more memorable moments, instead we got a cute but hardly vital movie that fell a little limp in one too many spots. It's worth a look but you don't need to rush either.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Admission" is playing at theaters all across the country tomorrow, please check with your local listings for show times.