Rated: PG-13 for language and some sexual material. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: March 22, 2013 Released by: Focus Features
Tina Fey (Baby Mama and Date Night) should appease many of her devotees in a dramedy of self-discovery from Paul Weitz.
Fey's Portia Nathan, a meticulous Princeton admissions officer, is in a tricky phase of her life as she visits a cutting-edge alternative, accredited school, New Quest. She's drawn to Paul Rudd's fellow Dartmouth graduate John, the man who runs the place and isn't enamored by how the students view her prestigious Ivy League university when it comes at least to sex and race. At home, things worsen when academic paramour Mark (Michael Sheen of Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Pt.2) has now found someone else to satisfy him.
As an insight to the struggles of adolescents vying to find their way into higher learning and Portia's crisis, which includes battling for a promotion, as well as dealing with her feminist author mother Susannah, Admission does have its moments. But, it's an unusual, elongated blend that relies too much on Fey's comedic presence to punctuate its pathos to a payoff that doesn't meet the demands of the screenplay by Karen Croner from Jean Hanff Korelitz's novel.
Having a reliable Fey together with Rudd (This Is 40) of course opens up some witty avenues as John relays to Portia that his favorite, autodidact of a student Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) could be the young man she placed into adoption years ago. Jeremiah grades can't compete with his output from tests, as the vulnerability and talents of Portia come into play as she clandestinely acts out of Jeremiah's best interests.
Decent backup comes from the likes Wallace Shawn as the retiring admissions dean and Gloria Reuben competitive colleague. While Wolff holds his own opposite Fey and Rudd, it's Lily Tomlin as the motherly free-spirit in Susannah from her tattoo and figure after an operation that truly offers some of the best instances of laughter.
Weitz works diligently enough to bring vitality to Portia's tenuous circumstances, but just doesn't have the same kind of control on the material that he had in earlier efforts like In Good Company and About A Boy which also dealt with difficult transitions. But, a game, embattled Fey still comes to terms and often rises from the strain.