If you’ve ever applied to college, you know it’s not as simple as paying your money and then then let you take classes. Just like a job, you have to apply and they hold every right to reject you. Admission tells the story of Portia Nathan, played by Tina Fey, an admissions officer for Princeton, which is frequently ranked the number one university in America. With that ranking, the admissions officer deal far more in rejection than acceptance and Portia finds herself in a bind when John Pressman, a principal of a small experimental high school played by Paul Rudd, presents her with an unusual student.
I’ve found myself seeing more and more movies lately with advertising almost contradictory to what the film is actually about. Like Silver Linings Playbook to a certain extent, the advertising for Admission seems to indicate a light-hearted comedic romp set in a more serious environment than usual. While Admission is certainly more of a comedy than Silver Linings Playbook, it was much more of a dramatic story about Portia coming to grips with the choices she has made in her life than a strict comedy. I’m not complaining, as the film I watched in both cases was better than the advertising indicated, but I don’t understand the strange tonal shift in the marketing.
As for the film itself, Admission can easily stand on its own without having to trick moviegoers into thinking that they’re about to see a disposable romantic comedy with zero value. Any movie with Wallace Shawn in it that can entertain me beyond the fact that it has Wallace Shawn in it and then make me forget that Wallace Shawn is even in it clearly can sell tickets. I found Portia’s struggle to the changes that John and this student present to her life to be interesting enough in their own regard. While the ‘maybe your life isn’t as good as you thought’ story is really overused, it’s done in a different and more realistic enough manner here that excuses its use.
Both Paul Rudd and Tina Fey are talented and entertaining enough to interest me in their projects, but Tina Fey especially has the tendency to play very similar characters from project to project. Paul Rudd differentiates himself from time to time, but here they both play the character you’ve seen them play in many movies before. Again, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, Admission makes those characters three dimensional enough in their own regard to let those mannerisms you’re used to shine without having Liz Lemon and Peter Klaven dominating the screen.
Admission is an excellent dramatic film with enough comedic elements to keep a light-hearted tone. What I can’t necessarily rationalize is recommending that you see it in theaters. There’s no specific element raised by seeing it on the big screen with a crowd of people, but it definitely deserves to be seen. It also does an excellent job highlighting one of the rarely touched upon parts of the collegiate system and wrapping a good story around it.
In Theaters: March 22, 2013
Runtime: 117 min
Rating: PG-13 (for language and some sexual material)
Director: Paul Weitz
Cast: Paul Rudd, Tina Fey, Nat Wolff, Wallace Shawn
Distributor: Focus Features
Official Site: http://focusfeatures.com/admission