By Bret Dorman
I’m not sure why most critics are giving Admission a beating. Is it because I was expecting a really bad/cheesy rom com that I warmed up to its soft and gentle romance with light comedy more willingly? Did these critics expect the movie to feature both main stars at their utmost A-Game, even though it is made by people who aren’t involved with the projects that have these stars performing at their best? Are my personal tastes changing? Did I genuinely enjoy this flick or was it just the expectations? I’m not sure about the answers but the point is, the movie is nice and sweet, and to be overly cynical I think says more about your own tastes than that of the filmmakers and stars.The Story: Portia (Tina Fey) is an admission officer and John (Paul Rudd) tells her that socially awkward but also sort-of super genius Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) might be her son. She examines her past and present to discover more about herself than she ever thought possible while falling for John’s sweet charms. Also, Lily Tomlin doesn’t like to feed her dogs.
I don’t mean to imply from the intro that any positive or optimistic movie with good intention isn’t subject to criticism, it’s just that the only thing people seem to latch onto when describing how “horrible” it is are the two stars: Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Yes, the two have been in some funny things and are directly responsible for some major pop-culture pieces of movies and TV, but still… this is just a silly little flick. Even if it isn’t that silly.The core of Admission is a dramatic one. That allows it to be a little goofy for flair and light-heartedness without those moments feeling too out of place. The opposite of that would be a movie like Identity Thief, whose core seems to be comedy. When that movie went serious (and I mean REALLY serious) it felt awkward. But Identity Thief also barrels from super comedic to super serious while Admission skips between light comedy and light (melo)drama. The script is strong enough to keep the two main stars in close contact without going overboard. In fact, Rudd, who isn’t the father of Fey’s given-up kid but is always around, offers up some simple lines of dialogue to remind us the kid’s parents are busy. I don’t need to see these scenes, but its nice to know that the filmmakers knew it was silly for Rudd to ALWAYS be around but excused it away with one simple line of dialogue here and there. I appreciate that.
The script keeps things fairly simple. There’s the central group of main characters, their immediate supporting characters, and then a couple of floating side characters who show up for a re-occurring gag or funny moment. And for the most part, everything focuses on Fey and how it relates to her, her job, her love life, and her past. The movie doesn’t meander about trying to squeeze in more than it can fit. Lily Tomlin as Fey’s mother is given just enough screen time to make her funny moments funny, endearing moments not as out of nowhere painful, and the final wrapping up callbacks well placed.Admission is filled with the normal “comedic” moments like Fey staying up all night and having marks on her face when talking to her boss! Oops! Anytime she is sad her ex shows up thinking its about him! D’oh! And a cow gives birth! Yuck! Even the obligatory “I don’t like you don’t ever talk to me again” scene followed by the “Okay let’s be friends” scene combo is kept short and simple. But there’s also moments like Rudd’s adopted son Nelson, played by Travaris Spears (from Rochester, NY! Represent!) liking Fey because she is boring and adult-like, as opposed to his father. This movie breathes in the little moments of Fey’s reactions and Rudd’s demeanor.
In Conclusion, I hate to call Admission a “rom com” but that’s essentially what it is. Two characters who are different fall in love and there are some silly mishaps and some dramatic tension. But unlike most rom coms, the script has a bit of care put into it and the cast does more than just stick to their lines, they explore the space between the lines just enough to make it slightly different.
Final Grade: B
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