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Admission, a new film by director Paul Weitz, made me thankful that the stressful college admission process is far behind me. It also made me thankful that I am not a college admissions officer, at least not for a prestigious university like Princeton. Out of so many exceptional candidates, how do you pick who gets in?
One of the strongest points of this film is the terrific casting. The ever brilliant Tina Fey stars as Portia Nathan, a Princeton admission's officer who makes tough decisions robotically.
While marketed as a comedy, this film is actually a smart, engaging, and enjoyable dramedy - more dramatic in nature with sprinklings of humor throughout.
With some on-site filming in Princeton, you are taken into the heart of the admissions process: the frantic applicants, pushy parents, and structure. This structure is what Portia lives by, a strict script of routine and order. But much like science’s laws of entropy tell us, all order eventually becomes disorder.
Fey manages to become undone with class.
The film begins with the prospect of Portia being promoted to Head of Admissions. Portia is vying to replace Clarence, who is played by the talented and recognizable Wallace Shaw. In order to remain competitive with another potential successor, Corrine, played by Gloria Reuben, Portia agrees to visit an alternative school for a ‘diamond in the rough’ applicant.
The loveable Paul Rudd plays John Pressman, a teacher at this school and Portia’s former classmate from Dartmouth. Pressman advocates for one of his students, Jeremiah, played expertly by Nat Wolff. Jeremiah, though bright, might have been overlooked by Portia if not for the fact that she received word that he is the son she gave up for adoption years ago.
This reminder of her past tugs at Portia’s core and leaves her to question the life she has been leading and the authenticity of it all. It also pushes her to move beyond the limits of her comfort zone.
If you are a fan of Fey’s hit show 30 Rock, you will be delighted to see Michael Sheen, AKA Wesley her “settling soulmate,” as her live-in boyfriend Mark. Mark soon becomes her ex, but his comedic reappearances throughout the film are laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Her break-up with Mark leaves an opening for Rudd’s John to become the leading man. The chemistry between Rudd and Fey is solid - not passionate romance, but pleasant, playful and fun to watch.
The other laugh-out-loud moments are stolen by the phenomenal Lily Tomlin. Tomlin plays Portia’s feminist mother Susannah. The chemistry between the pair is even stronger than that between Fey and Rudd. Tomlin, a comedy veteran, won the Mark Twain Prize for Humor, as did Fey, making them a natural and perfect mother/daughter pair.
Admission, with all its twists and turns, will ‘admit’ its way into your heart thanks to the thoughtful plot and wonderful cast.
Opens in theaters March 22nd.