Directed by: Paul Weitz
Written by: Karen Croner, [novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz]
Featuring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Lily Tomlin, Nat Wolff, Wallace Shawn
Portia Nathan is a long serving Princeton University admissions officer who in the course of her job visits an alternative high school run by a former Dartmouth classmate, John Pressman. He believes that one of his students Jeremiah is so gifted, yet unconventional, he should be admitted to Princeton. To complicate matters further he thinks Jeremiah is the son that Portia secretly gave up for adoption when they were at University. Portia compromised more than at any other time in her life starts to bend the rules for Jeremiah whilst falling for John. This is only the beginning of Portia’s troubles.
Admission is a film that deals with a world I have never known or had contact with in my entire life, nor am I likely to. So bearing this mind I cannot say if it is accurate in the portrayal of gaining admission to an elite US university or not. I have a sneaking suspicion that it probably is but perhaps slightly ‘writ large’. If you watch a romantic comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd you have a good idea of what you are going to get before you pop the disc into your player or settle down into the cinema seat. So it is a pleasure to say that although formulaic there were several moments during the film where the storyline went in a direction that was not predictable. In a Hollywood light-comedy-romance, this is no mean feat.
Paul Rudd does not even break sweat playing his likable slightly off-kilter character. He can do this in his sleep and does it so well that I still imagine him in real life to be an easy-going nice chap. I hope he is, otherwise, that’s another illusion shattered. This could be seen as a weakness but in a film like this I believe it is a strength, you know you are going to get a good solid performance. Likewise, Tina Fey doesn’t stretch herself and plays to her strengths but this does not make it a weak film or performance but actually a strength. You know you’ll get a good, solid, reliable character that you’ll enjoy – and I did.
If you compare this to her other film outings – this is good, very, very, good.
Wallace Shawn is in the film. He was in the Princess Bride. So that will do for me.
Another strength for the film is Lily Tomlin playing Portia’s wacky feminist ‘mom’. Perhaps this is a character that played by a lesser actor could be annoying and draw no sympathy from the audience. It is to Tomlin’s credit that she endows real-life into a character that could easily grate after say, thirty-seconds of screen time.
In fact I did not really find any character unbelievable, which in a romantic comedy is a rarity, although Jeremiah’s conversation would make him irritating beyond belief with some of the pretentious lines he was given and Paul Rudd’s Pressman was probably a bit too much on the wonder altruistic dad that is rare in the real world, making him selfish and unfeeling to his adopted son’s feelings dragged him back from the precipice of mawkishness.
Certainly I went into the film expecting the plot to drop into ‘A leads to B, B leads to C, C lead to everyone lives happily ever after’ as did my wife who occasionally said things like, “She’s going to say xxxxx now” or “He’s going to do xxxxx” as she peered over her laptop screen, only to have her clairvoyant tendencies thwarted as the plot did not follow the usual pre-defined route.
This is particularly true of the end of the film. As with all of my stumbling reviews I will not describe what happens to avoid spoiling the film for those that have not seen it.
All I will say is the film went up in my stock just by the final twenty-minutes or so that decided to take a different route from your usual rom-com.
I enjoyed this film and so I will continue to watch Paul Rudd films and hope that Tina Fey carries on in this vein.
I bet when they find out they will not be able to contain their joy….