When a film has a trailer that’s as routine as Admission’s, it’s hard to excitedly anticipate it. The movie appeared to be feather light fare, coming through on all those chick flick clichés that feel all too familiar. And, how many movies and television episodes can Tina Fey star in where motherhood is a prominent theme!?
Surprisingly enough, I found myself enjoying Admission and laughing quite often. I would even go as far as saying it’s one of the better romantic comedies this year has to offer.
The humour has a smart aleck edge to it, which works and never gets ahead of itself. Although, it certainly helps that Fey and her on-screen partner Paul Rudd know how to stick each sarcastic landing.
Fey plays Portia Nathan, a stressed Princeton admissions officer, who sifts through hundreds of applications. She’s been able to remove personal feelings towards the applicants away from her job, making the process of denying eager students much easier.
However, for the first time in her high-strung career, she feels attachment to an inspired graduate named Jeremiah (played by Nat Wolff). His spirited teacher John Pressman (played by Rudd) sees hope for Jeremiah’s future and pushes for a positive, educational future.
Jeremiah is eccentric and – according to Princeton’s guidelines – not suitable for the post-secondary establishment. But, he has amazing academic scores and he loves to learn. Portia sees a bright future for Jeremiah as well, but it’s also due to the fact that Jeremiah appears to be Portia’s forgotten son.
And like Jeremiah, Admission is easy to approve and like. It delivers on those conventions we predicted from the previews, but at the same time is very clever and has more than enough earnest characters with amiable intentions to keep us interested and make us grin.
The two leads play off each other nicely and interact with the younger cast just as well. There are some scenes between Rudd and his adoptive son that are fun to watch. It keeps that sarcasm, but also maintains a heartfelt relationship.
The same can be said about the scenes between Fey and Wolff. Portia keeps the secret away from Jeremiah, but can’t help but ask him if he’s warm enough at a campus party while the curious and befuddled student raises an eyebrow.
Admission is brought to us by Paul Weitz, who has directed pleasant films like this to more rambunctious titles like American Pie. His latest, as expected, takes notes from his 2002 crowd-pleaser About a Boy. It deals with similar chemistry between an awkward tight-end and a unique kid, but Admission is able to tell its story (written by Karen Croner, adapted from Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel) with an overflowing and consistent likability factor with actors who know how to put a new spin on their roles. It stands alone as another winner on Weitz’s eclectic résumé.
With a story that could be told in 90 minutes flat, the film goes on about 15 minutes longer than it should, opening the doors to contrived sitcom qualities and conclusions. It also gradually asks the audience to bend our imagination more and more in a way that isn’t all that agreeable as Portia further puts her job on the line.
But, Admission scores enough laughs and warmth making itself into a worthwhile romantic comedy. Take a chance on it and don’t let that derivative trailer fool you.