There’s no doubt that Admission has a lot on its curriculum vitae to make it an attractive candidate. You have the can’t-miss pairing of Tina Fey and Paul Rudd charming their way through an intellectual subject matter based on a literary source (Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel) all under the auspices of director Paul Weitz, who so ably helmed the similarly toned About a Boy.
But, in an issue that goes to the heart of this tricky romantic comedy, full acceptance requires more than a good resumé. Admission has more on its mind than the standard rom-com stuff of meet cutes, manufactured hostility between the lovebirds and a saccharine ending. When it does lapse into some of those tropes, it seems to be more out of obligation or a sense of marking time as opposed to what is really in its heart.
Fey plays Portia, who works in the admissions office at Princeton University and judges the merits of prospective students. Her seemingly orderly existence is blitzkrieged when she meets John (Rudd), who heads up an alternative school and tells Portia he believes the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption is one of his pupils. This leads to a full examination of her current life, her past choices and her suddenly uncertain future.
There was a fair amount of criticism leveled at Admission for it not being an out-and-out comedy, but it’s actually refreshing to see Fey go a little deeper than she has onscreen before. The script also benefits by calling out not only the harsh system that reduces people’s worth to an admissions profile, but also Rudd’s character’s aggressive do-gooderism that might help people at large but wreaks havoc on those close to him. Throw in some solid support work by Lily Tomlin as Portia’s stridently feminist mother, and Michael Sheen as her befuddled longtime boyfriend, and you’ve got a movie that definitely earns a passing grade.
Admission is available beginning July 9 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
Photo: © Focus Features. Credit: David Lee