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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 6.67%
Just Average: 40%
Pretty Crappy46.67%
Sucks: 6.67%

2 reviews, 3 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Looks Like The University Of Illinois!"
3 stars

The ads for "Admission" make it look like another workplace comedy in the mode of the late, great "30 Rock" in which Tina Fey once again finds herself trying to find a way to achieve some degree of simultaneous professional and personal fulfillment. As it turns out, while it does share some characteristics with that show, there are times when it does spin off into directions dramatically different from those suggested in the commercials. In some ways, this is a good thing because it is always nice to see a film willing to forgo the familiar path in order to strike out on its own. The trouble is that it never really seems to have a sure grasp of the story it wants to tell or how it wants to tell it and the result is a movie with a lot of strong and worthwhile individual elements that never quite pull together into a satisfying whole.

Fey plays Portia Nathan, an admissions officer at Princeton with the power to fulfill or dash the hopes of thousands of parents and kids alike every spring and one who takes pride in her inability to be swayed by anything other than what is on the applications in front of her. As the story opens, she is in the midst of a long-term relationship with a professor (Michael Sheen) who shares her disinterest in having children--an off-shoot of her troubled relationship with her radical feminist mother (Lily Tomlin)--and is up for a promotion to be the new head of the entire admissions department.

Both her personal and professional lives are so carefully constructed that it i only a matter of time before something sets them into disarray and that begins when she ventures off to visit an out-of-the-way experimental school run by free spirit John Pressman (Paul Rudd). Although most of the kids there feel that both college and the application process are cruel shams (and let her know that in one of the funniest scenes), there is one kid, Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), who, although admittedly a flake, is pretty much a self-taught genius who might genuinely flower at Princeton.

(Spoiler Alert!) John eventually reveals to Portia his real motive for inviting her up there--he believes that Jeremiah is actually the child that she secretly had and gave up for adoption while she was in college. This revelation, coupled with being dumped by her boyfriend for a professor who is about to bear his twins, knocks Portia for a loop and though she tries to get back to normal, she can't shake the connection that she has unexpectedly developed for the kid who may be her son. Going against everything that she has always stood for, Portia attempts to secretly game the admissions system in order to get Jeremiah in despite his admittedly atrocious school transcripts and conceptual ventriloquism as his central extracurricular activity. She also finds herself drawing closer to John, though his determination to see the world and fix everybody's problems so as to avoid dealing with his own make things complicated in that area as well.

The idea of a romantic comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, two of the most likable and amusing performers out there, sounds so promising that it seems impossible that it possibly fail and yet, "Admission" just doesn't quite work. One key problem is that the film never seems to be sure of what it wants to be--at various times, it tries to be an opposites-attract rom-com, a wicked satire of the college admissions process and a serious-minded drama about a woman coming to terms with her past before facing an uncertain future. Any one of these approaches might have resulted in an interesting film but by throwing them all together, the end result is a weird clashing of tones throughout that eventually grows a bit tiresome after a while.

There are also a number of promising elements that wind up going nowhere, especially in regards to the Lily Tomlin character. One would think that putting her and Fey together would result in brilliant comedy but they never quite manage to spark off of each other. Speaking of Tomlin, one weird aspect of the film is that even though it was written by a female screenwriter, Karen Croner, virtually every woman character other than Fey's is a one-dimensional stereotype of the kind that would be condemned, and rightfully so, if it had been written by a man.

Still, "Admission" is not a total failure by any means. In her first major project in the wake of "30 Rock," Fey once again shows that she has what it takes to make it on the big screen as well and also reveals a flair for quieter and more dramatic material as well. Opposite her, Rudd has less to work with but he again proves himself to be one of those valuable actors who can perk up even the weakest material with his mere presence. Together, they make such a winning couple that I can only hope that someone is inspired enough to cast them in a proper romantic comedy as soon as possible.

Beyond the two stars, the film does have a few big laughs here and there and while it never quite lives up to its larger ambitions, it at least deserves credit for trying to do something a little different. Even though it doesn't quite work well enough to warrant a full recommendation, I don't want to completely dismiss it out of hand. Look, right now at a theater near you, there are some films that are far better than "Admission" and there are some that are far worse. If you are trying to find something to see, consider it your safety film--perfectly acceptable if there is nothing else available but easily forgotten in the event that something better comes along.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24440&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/21/13 17:29:58
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User Comments

1/19/15 Rizky Ramdhona Putra this movie is BAD! 1 stars
4/08/13 Bert I was surprised. I liked this movie. 4 stars
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  22-Mar-2013 (PG-13)
  DVD: 09-Jul-2013


  DVD: 09-Jul-2013

Directed by
  Paul Weitz

Written by
  Karen Croner

  Tina Fey
  Paul Rudd
  Michael Sheen
  Wallace Shawn
  Sonya Walger
  Tina Benko
  Lily Tomlin

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