Tina Fey stars in Admission as a Princeton admission counselor who believes she has it all. Her Portia Nathan is one of the best at her job and is in line to run the department as her boss eyes retirement. She is in a relationship with one of the great minds at the university, a professor played by Michael Sheen. The only thing is, the rug is about to be pulled from underneath her. Will she be able to keep it together?
Our Admission review finds that the role of Nathan is custom fit for Fey. She plays it like Itzhak Perlman playing his violin. But, is that enough to make an entire film? Sadly, not quite.
Yes, her man leaves her for another woman who he has gotten pregnant -- even though he swore he did not want children. And then there’s this John Pressman character (Paul Rudd) who will not leave her alone, all in the name of trying to get one of his students into the Ivy League school.
As one can see from the Admission trailer, Rudd is playful in the role of a grounded hippie type who runs an unorthodox high school. He believes that one of his students is perfect for Princeton and keeps calling Fey to try to get her to visit his school. After Sheen’s character moves out, in a fit of hysterics, Fey gets in the car and heads to Rudd’s school. It doesn’t hurt that her mother (Lily Tomlin) lives nearby and she could use a little maternal support.
Tomlin is her usual excellent self. Her mother is a post-modernist feminist who is simultaneously earthy and yet is adept at wielding a shotgun. Tomlin plays her as caring, yet distant as her character believes tough love is the right way to raise a child. As told to us in our Lily Tomlin exclusive interview, the character is a little different than in the book by Jean Hanff Korelitz, but it works onscreen.
When Fey visits Rudd at his school, the story starts to take shape, but unfortunately it never is fully realized over the course of the film. There’s a subplot involving Nathan and a child she gave up for adoption when she was eighteen that sort of drags down the pacing of the film and never allows it to hit the comedic notes it should. This film is a comedy, but it plays more like a family drama with a few jokes tossed in the mix.
It has its flirtation with a Rudd-Fey romance, but it misses the mark more often than not. And that is unfortunate, as those two actors seem like two who audiences would welcome seeing fall in love on the big screen. Overall, with explosions, cartoons and Spring Breakers running amuck this weekend, Admission is a solid film for adults… but just like a student who gets waitlisted at their favorite college, it just doesn't quite make the cut.