Cute and comfortable
In a sense, actors Paul Rudd and Tina Fey are reverse-gender comedic doppelgangers of one another, and audiences appreciate them for similar reasons. You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t find them charming, witty, and relentlessly humorous in their own idiosyncratic ways. Especially considering how close they are in age, it is surprising that “Admission” is their first film foray together. And while it isn’t a world beater, this gentle and heartwarming, understated comedy had better not be their last as co-stars.
Fey stars as Portia, seemingly content at the office as an admissions officer at Princeton University and at home with a less than dynamic beau (Michael Sheen). When she visits an alternative high school and meets its founder, the itinerant do-gooder John (Rudd), she is introduced to a highly literate but academically challenged student (excellent newcomer Nat Wolff) who may have been part of Portia’s past. Naturally, John wants her to find a place at Princeton for his gifted student and perhaps a place in his life too. Adding some fun to the mix is Portia’s hardcore feminist mom, played with spot on zeal by too-infrequently seen comedienne Lily Tomlin.
Director Paul Weitz has done better work – most notably “About a Boy,” and “In Good Company”—but both those films were blessed with superlative scripts with much more depth and more interesting characters.
The film pokes fun at the overachieving students dying to get admitted, their overeager parents, and the inter-office politics of the admission office itself, since the current director (Wallace Shawn) is set to retire. The script is lazy in spots and relies too much on Rudd and Fey’s natural chemistry, while neither is asked to step out of their comfort zone. Rudd has crafted a nice, if predictable, career based on this same character type (“I Love You, Man,” “Knocked Up”). Meanwhile, Fey still has something to prove on the big screen after being delightful in the only tolerable “Date Night” and the funnier-than-expected “Baby Mama.”
Even those who mistrust sequels might admit that “Admission” lends itself nicely for a continuation story, if only to be able to see Fey and Rudd again.
Hopefully their next joint venture will come with a better script.
Rated “PG-13” for language and some sexual material.
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