There are other romantic comedies that are more rare; the ones with heart, a good and unique story, and some great acting. Usually they still end up trying to convince you that single straight women are useless…but hey, at least the package is better. A great example of this is Return To Me.
Admission is a movie that tries to be one of the second types of romcoms. Tina Fey and Paul Rudd star in this small movie directed by Paul Weitz.
Weitz had previously directed Being Flynn, Little Fockers, Cirque du Freak: the Vampire’s Asssitant, American Dreamz, In Good Company, About a Boy and the first American Pie movie. Of those, the best I can say is that American Dreamz was okay, In Good Company was unique. The rest I either haven’t seen or didn’t like. But the trend of the romantic non-comedy is there in his worklist.
The story follows Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan. She is all business, and has been in a relationship with a co-worker for the last 10 years. She makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school run by John Pressman, who was a college classmate of hers. She meets his gifted and strange student Jeremiah. Pressman tells her he believes Jeremiah to be the son she gave up for adoption in college. This causes her to look closely at her life to this point, and decide if she’s ready to break out of her rut.
At this point let me tell you that this movie is not funny. It is charming, from time to time, but anything ‘funny’ was in the commercials. Portia’s relationship with her cold, calculating mother is … well, strained is a pleasant way to put it. She gets dumped early in the film, which is really upsetting, and then dragged through the rest of the movie as an awkward running gag. Pressman’s relationship with his adopted son is also started out playing for laughs then awkwardly shifts to painful.
The cast is capable:
· Tina Fey plays Portia and is always genius. She’s good in this, but not as good as she might have been if she had written/directed this. She had no role behind the scenes for this, and so I’m wondering if that would have made a difference. She plays Portia as genuine, but overwhelmed.
· Paul Rudd is again, always genius, but there’s not much for him to do in this. I’m not sure where the relationship with Portia comes from – it does seem to pop out of nowhere. Like Fey, he does the best he can with what he has, but he is better in an absurd comedy where he can improve the entire thing. It does make me wish for another movie starring Fey and Rudd that was entirely improved.
· Lilly Tomlin plays Portia’s extremely feminist mother. She is angry and loud and has almost no motherly skills. It’s attempted to be played for comedy, but she’s so cruel that when her ‘redemption’ point comes, I did not care. She wasn’t funny, she was just mean and it made me sad.
· Wallace Shawn plays Portia’s boss at Princeton. It was fun seeing him on screen, and he does a good job. He also could have been better in a more comedy-geared comedy. He basically exists to set up the fact that Portia needs to double her workload.
· Gloria Reuben plays Portia’s co-worker/competitor. She gets to basically just walk around and be bitchy until her redemption moment at the end, which doesn’t completely redeem her. She was in Timecop and ER and she does do a great job in this.
· Michael Sheen plays Portia’s boyfriend who dumps her after 10 years together. He’s been cheating on her with a Virginia Woolf scholar. He’s better than this role allows him to be again – in fact, he was way better playing almost this exact character on 30 Rock. He does seem to be in a different movie than everyone else, playing it as a complete comedy, whereas everyone else seems to be stuck on the ‘dramedy’ portion.
· Nat Wolff, the kid who plays Jeremiah – and Tavaris Spears, the kid who plays Rudd’s son Nelson, are both great, and should have a long careers ahead of them.
It was touching, and charming, but not especially funny. It does make me remember the college application process, and how terrible it was. And it must be so much worse for those who are trying to get into Princeton or a college like it. The movie isn’t terrible, but I didn’t love it. It’s a bit forgettable.6 out of 10: Gained points for Olek Krupa as the Russian – funny. Lost points for Tomlin’s character – just terrible. Gained points for Nat Wolff, lost points for the cow scene – not funny, and mostly useless.
Bonus Video 1: Michael Sheen on 30 Rock as Wesley Snipes, yes Wesley Snipes. What I wanted was the clip of him explaining his name - but I couldn't find that.
Bonus Video 2: Timecop – because, you know, Gloria Rueben…
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews