‚??You two are my superstars,‚?Ě says retiring Princeton Dean of Admissions Clarence (Wallace Shawn). ‚??Nothing would make me happier than if one of you occupies my office next year.‚?Ě He‚??s talking to admissions officers Portia (Tina Fey) and Corinne (Gloria Reuben), who now compete for promotion. Portia‚??s life, however, immediately begins to fall apart, starting with her English professor live-in boyfriend of 10 years (Michael Sheen) who announces that he‚??s leaving her to marry the Virginia Woolf scholar in his department with whom he‚??s expecting twins. Other complications follow (I won‚??t divulge them although some are in the trailer). That‚??s the setup for this smart, ensemble comedy.
Will Portia and John (Paul Rudd) get together? Do Portia and her mother (Lily Tomlin) bond? Does Princeton admit Jeremiah (Nat Wolff)?
Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are attractive and funny as principal characters Portia and John, who were undergraduate classmates at Dartmouth. Admissions officer Portia has worked at Princeton for 16 years. She‚??s unmarried, without children, a serious-minded, play-it-by-the-book, successful professional. On the other hand, John is a free spirit, headmaster of New Quest, alternative high school for over-achieving students. He travels the world organizing community improvement projects in (what we used to call) third-world countries. His adopted Ugandan son Nelson (Travaris Spears) wants to stay put and likes Portia because, he says, ‚??she‚??s boring.‚?Ě
Others in the cast include Lily Tomlin as Portia‚??s acerbic survivalist-feminist mother, Wallace Shawn as Clarence, avuncular Dean of Admissions, and Michael Sheen as Chaucer-scholar Mark. All are talented and funny character actors. Gloria Reuben is Portia‚??s admissions colleague, Nat Wolff is Jeremiah, unconventional, autodidact applicant to Princeton, and Travaris Spears is John‚??s bright and conventional son Nelson.
‚??Admission‚?Ě is a smart romantic comedy, with witty script and engaging characters. Paul Weitz directs, from Karen Croner‚??s script, based on Jean Hanff Korelitz‚??s novel. Characters and dialog provide most of the film‚??s humor, with fantasy sight gags added. Unsuccessful applicants, for example, disappear through a trapdoor in the admissions conference room. Actors deliver their lines with near pitch-perfect timing. ‚??Nelson is turning into my mother,‚?Ě says Rudd. ‚??He wants a blue blazer with gold buttons that have anchors on them.‚?Ě ‚??It‚??s not healthy to need other people too much,‚?Ě says Tomlin as Portia‚??s mom.
Rated PG-13 for language and sex, ‚??Admission‚?Ě runs 117 minutes. Its take-away? ‚??The secret of getting in? I can‚??t tell you. Figure it out for yourself.‚?Ě
Tina Fey and Paul Rudd‚??s
Smart romantic flick;
Best rom-com of the year?
‚??Admission‚?Ě is my pick.