Fascinating Admission Makes the Grade
- Friday, March 22, 2013
DVD Release Date: July 9, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: March 22, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (language and some sexual material)
Run Time:117 min.
Director: Paul Weitz
Cast: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Lily Tomlin, Gloria Reuben, Wallace Shawn, Nat Wolff
While most of the marketing for Admission suggests that it’s a cute, charming romantic comedy with two very likeable leads in Tina Fey (Date Night) and Paul Rudd (This is 40), that’s really only half of the story.
Much like 2002’s About a Boy where Hugh Grant’s character learns that life is far better when it’s not all about you, there’s a deeper story accompanying all the flirty banter in Admission. In fact, there’s quite a bit of continuity between those two films, not surprising since they were both directed by Paul Weitz.
Adapted from the popular novel written by Jean Hanff Korelitz, Admission is also a sharp critique about what it takes to get in to an Ivy League school like Princeton. Incidentally, that’s where Portia (Fey), a former Princetonian herself, works as an admissions counselor. Striving to find the stroke of genius in thousands and thousands of applicants with virtually the same G.P.A. and near-perfect SAT scores, she’s extra motivated to do well because her boss (Wallace Shawn, A Late Quartet) is retiring.
Since Princeton has recently dropped from #1 to #2 in the annual ranking of top colleges, the boss doesn’t want that statistic as part of his legacy, naturally, so Portia and her office arch-rival Corinne (a perfectly cast Gloria Reuben, Lincoln) are in particularly hot pursuit of Princeton’s best possible freshman class. And for the decidedly methodical Portia, finding fresh blood involves stepping out of her comfort zone, which is why she ends up visiting a hippie-dippie new high school in New Hampshire.
It’s there where Portia crosses path with John (Rudd), a nomadic world traveler who’s an unconventional but devoted teacher—and a single father to boot. The sort of guy who gets twitchy when he’s been in one place too long, much to the chagrin of his adopted son who’s ready to settle down already, John’s kid takes an immediate liking to Portia because she’s so “boring.”
While it’s clear there’s a spark between Portia and John, Portia won’t take the bait because she’s got a longtime live-in boyfriend, Mark (Michael Sheen, The Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn Pt. 2). Borrowing a page from his pretentious, pseudo-intellectual scene-stealer in Midnight in Paris, Mark fancies himself an academic snob. To wit, he’s clearly pleased with himself while reading the prologue to The Canterbury Tales to Portia aloud in bed— in Middle English, no less.
Of course, there’s no doubt that Portia should’ve dumped this guy eons ago, but she’s the sort of person who takes comfort in routines because she’s too scared to consider the alternative. Truth be told, it’s not until Mark unceremoniously dumps her for a Virginia Woolf scholar that Portia starts evaluating what’s missing in her life. Is her job really as great as she pretends it is? Is it even honorable to judge high schoolers so harshly? Should she have kept the baby she gave up for adoption all those years ago? Can she and her Mom ever mend their distant relationship?
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