Admission portrays a workaholic Princeton Admissions counselor who admits many people into the university, but not into her personal life. It’s a rainy day chick flick that almost succeeds, but the writing is dry with predictable twists.
Portia (Tina Fey) has been an admissions counselor at Princeton University for 16 years, since her college graduation from Dartmouth. Portraying a woman who has more career potential than an admissions counselor, her work life is always busy and full of traveling, her long-term relationship and living with an English professor for the past ten years is stagnant, and her life seems rather boring on the outside. The Dean of Admissions, Clarence (Wallace Shawn), announces that Princeton has fallen to #2 on the “best colleges” ranking, also that he is going to retire. Clarence tells Portia and another hardworking counselor, Corinne (Gloria Reuben), that he’s only considering one of the two of them to fill his vacancy, therefore Portia works even harder to recruit better, brighter students. While recruiting at a new developmental school in New Hampshire, she meets a senior, Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), who is a “self-described autodidact” and prodigy, and his teacher, John (Paul Rudd) who enthusiastically lobbies for his admittance into Princeton. Although rather unimpressed initially with Jeremiah, Portia learns from John that there may be a closer connection between Portia and Jeremiah than she initially realizes.
A light-hearted romantic comedy, the film aims to explore types of “admission” in life overall, and created this through the parallel of Portia as an admissions counselor. It focused not only on the (obvious) college admissions process, but also letting go of grudges and mundane routines and welcoming people – whether it be a family member you’ve never really gotten along with or a new love interest – into your life.
Overall, the overarching theme was clear, but the writing didn’t do it justice. There is no doubt that the film is realistic, but the jokes are dry, the supporting characters aren’t nearly as developed as well as they could have been, and minor subplots introduced in the beginning are lost through the film. The chemistry between Rudd and Fey is surprisingly decent, and the two of them bring a stigma of ease and confidence to the film. Otherwise, the supporting actors seem to try too hard, but that’s probably due to the fact the audience doesn’t have a real reason to care for them. The character Fey portrays is reminiscent to her character, Sharon Norbury, from Mean Girls – a dedicated and diligent woman in their career but has their entire life slowly spiral downward. While Fey pulls of the workaholic and caring career woman character well (as seen in Mean Girls and 30 Rock), it may be time for Fey to move into some more diverse roles if she’s going to continue with film rather than TV.
Other than Fey and Rudd’s characters, the writing doesn’t give the audience any reason to personally be interested in the rest of the cast and the dry humor only supported the sub-par script. I’d wait to watch this on Red Box on a rainy day rather than buying an “admission” ticket.
Rated: PG-13 (for language and some sexual material)
Admission opens in theaters on March 22, 2013.