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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Admission Movie Review


"Admission" is not the movie I was expecting. From the trailer, it looks like some sort of witty rom-com staring the two exact people you'd want to see in a rom-com.

And to be fair, it is, to an extent, a rom-com, but not nearly the one you'd think. In fact, that's what this movie does best, not doing what you'd think. At every chance for it to become the tritely-adorable movie you'd expect, it veers off.


Allow me to back up. Tina Fey plays a type-A admissions officer at Princeton. There's a little bit of fun played with this, though not as much as you'd expect. Paul Rudd plays the free spirit principal of a new-age high school. You'd expect these differences to be played up, but they're not, really. Surely the film is about the two of them getting together, except it's not, really.

To explain what it's about would give away more than what's in the trailer, and I hate doing that. The movie evolves naturally, veering off in these unexpected directions, bringing you along for the ride. It took me a while to adjust to the slower, less outwardly-funny movie I got instead of the one I thought I'd be seeing (it is, after all, Tina Fey and Paul Rudd). If this seems like an odd way to synopsize a movie, well, it was just as odd sitting there expecting some Judd Apatow-type romp, which this decidedly isn't.

I couldn't help but enjoy the movie though, and that is a testament to the cast. I'm not sure a more likeable group of actors has ever been put in the same film. Fey and Rudd, of course, are tremendously charming and liked by everyone (rightly so). Moving down the call sheet, Michael Sheen plays the boyfriend of Tina Fey's, and even though you don't like what he does, you can't help but forgive him for it. Lily Tomlin as Fey's mom? Come on, that's perfect. Wallace Shawn as her boss is great. So the cast holds together what is a fairly slow moving film.

I guess the question is: Did I like it? I think my issue with "Admission" is that it isn't the movie promised by the trailer. An odd criticism, perhaps, but I think an important one. Anyone expecting Tina Fey and Paul Rudd throwing zingers at each other for 90 minutes is going to be disappointed. Instead, it's the two of them, as likeable as they are, playing characters you like and want to see do well. The movie is more about Fey's character's growth as a person than any part of what you see in the trailer. In that, the movie succeeds and is interesting, regularly amusing, and occasionally funny.

And, for what it's worth, I'd like to see this entire cast in another, completely unrelated movie.

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