Greg, I have to admit that I’ve looked forward to reviewing Admission
That’s quite an admission on your part, Scott.
We meet Portia Nathan (Tina Fey), an admissions officer at Princeton University. Portia thinks she’s in a good long-term relationship, but she’s not. She thinks that a recruiting visit to the Quest School will be just an ordinary visit, but it’s not. There she meets the head of the school, John Pressman (Paul Rudd), a former classmate of hers at Dartmouth College 17 years earlier.
The Quest School is not exactly what you would expect of a preparatory school. The kids are learning to run a farm as part of their residence. Pressman introduces her to Jeremiah Balakian (Nat Wolff) who is a genius and Pressman thinks is perfect for Princeton. Problem is, his transcript doesn’t reflect his abilities. But wait, there’s more. Jeremiah may just be the long lost son that Portia gave up for adoption 17 years ago.
Greg, is it my imagination or are Tina Fey movies on a steady decline? I’m a big fan of hers and have enjoyed her previous work, particularly in Mean Girls. But Admission is another example of a disappointing product put out by Fey. It’s not a particularly bad movie, but it’s not good either. It’s just there, going through the motions, devoid of any particularly surprising moments or laugh-out-loud moments. It’s a shame because I truly believe that Tina Fey has massive talent.
Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think Tina Fey can do no wrong. She’s always brilliant and can make me laugh to tears or want to reach out and hug her. Her films always have a point to make and this is one movie that I would think you’d identify with since you’re an educator at a major university.
Portia has to pick the most qualified students. And to get into Princeton you have to have a backstory that beats the band. It’s not enough to be smart and get great grades, but you have to have come from an underprivileged social class, participated in a ton of extra curriculars, and overcome some great obstacle.
There’s a scene that had me laughing out loud: Portia is pouring over applications and each student appears before her (in her imagination) and acts out their backstory. It’s hilarious to see the cheerleading Eskimo girl who overcame a bear attack (or some such thing). The movie really calls out how competitive and superficial the admissions process has become.
I think your secret crush on Tina Fey has revealed your bias, Greg. She is fun and appealing to watch, and you’re right, she plays such a likeable character here. But therein lies another problem I had with Admission. Although Tina Fey has great talent, she always seems to play the same character in every movie, and it’s the same character she played in 30 Rock. Fey invariably is cast as a quirky, insecure, loser-at-love who loveably navigates her way through social misunderstandings, awkward situations, and tumultuous relationships.
We see this limited range with a number of actors and I don’t mean to pick on Fey, because as I’ve said, I’m a big fan of hers. But if she’s going to play the same character repeatedly, the screenwriting and directing has to excel. This movie doesn’t flow particularly well and in fact has a made-for-TV-movie feel to it.
I feel wounded. You’re right, I have had a crush on Tina Fey since I saw her on the cover of a local Richmond magazine that praised her appointment to SNL’s writing staff. She’s a University of Virginia alum after all, Scott. She’s the girl next door who is amazingly talented and hilarious. In my humble opinion, Tina Fey is what you’d get if Dick Van Dyke married Mary Tyler Moore and had a daughter. Sigh…
Still I think you’re being a bit hard on her and the production staff of Admission. Portia has to make some hard decisions here and puts her reputation on the line to get her potential son into Princeton. It’s a very heroic move worthy of any movie.
I got what I expected from Admission which is more than I can say from many movies we’ve reviewed this year. It was a light, entertaining comedy with an enchanting cast and a nice little message to take home. I give Admission 3 out of 5 Reels. Tina Fey does as you say, she delivered the same character we’ve seen in previous incarnations. Which is fine with me. She plays a smart, quirky and flawed, albeit strong woman. I give her 3 out of 5 Heroes.
Admission is a somewhat pleasant foray into the personal life of a college admissions officer who stumbles through lost love, new love, and cross-generational turmoil. The movie will not win any awards, but if you’re a Tina Fey fanatic you will find this film satisfying. The hero story rises above the mediocrity of the movie. Portia does manage to grow, take chances, and rise to the occasion in a manner befitting a hero. So while I award the movie a mere 2 Reels out of 5, I will agree with Greg that Portia deserves 3 out of 5 Heroes.