Monday, March 18, 2013

FILM REVIEW: Tina Fey & Paul Rudd's "Admission"

Admission is a romantic dramedy about a Princeton admissions officer who is contacted by a passionate teacher, hellbent on not only getting his student into Princeton, but also reuniting him with his biological mother...her.

With Tina Fey and Paul Rudd at the helm, adorable goofiness was bound to ensue, of which they both delivered. But what I found most noteworthy was the tone, which reminded me so much of Judd Apatow's This is Forty. In the trailers of both these films, the audience is led to believe they're in for 90% comedy / 10% drama, but that's not what's delivered. This is Forty suffered from the same tone issues that Apatow's previous film Funny People did. The balance of humor and drama were so unexpectedly disproportionate for a screenwriter known for films like The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Pineapple Express that the audience left shell-shocked with emotion when they actually came for a raucous good time. Admission, however, gets it right, with a fluid balance of comedy and drama injected into each scene.  

Rudd has a knack for this particular juggling act, but after 7 years on the loopy "30 Rock" and 12 years on the unhinged "Saturday Night Live," Fey has yet to truly prove she can handle a dramatic moment. Sure there were a few in Mean Girls, Baby Mama, and Date Night, but those were definitely 90-10 dramedies. Admission is more of a 60-40 dramedy. And it turns out Fey can bring you to tears almost as easily as she can get a laugh out of you.

That said, the film is at best a rental. No need to run to theaters to see it. My advice to junior and senior high school students, especially ones who want to go to the top Ivy schools, is to definitely not watch this before you get your admission responses. Once you learn what is allegedly the process that one must endure to apply and the system the admissions officers use in order to determine your worthiness, your brain will probably melt. For everybody else, who is either already in college or glad to be done with it, you'll discover a sweet story about parenthood and the different ways it can go wrong no matter how much you try to do right. Special recognition go to Michael Sheen, who plays Fey's boring British pushover of a long-term boyfriend, and Nat Wolff, who is surprisingly captivating for a kid who once starred in a Nickelodeon series called "The Naked Brothers Band."

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