Year in and year out, Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) has lived her life by the book. But during her annual recruiting trip, she finds herself reconnecting with a former college classmate, free-spirited teacher John Pressman (Paul Rudd). As she bends the entrance rules for one of his very unconventional students, Portia puts at risk the future she thought she always wanted, and finds her way to a surprising and exhilarating life she never dreamed of having.
Built around the comic stylings of Tina Fey, Admission is one of those Hollywood comedies that never quite makes sense. Not only do Tina Fey and Paul Rudd share very little chemistry but they also lack the ability to lead a film on their own. Date Night only really worked because of Carrell and Rudd belongs in films like Anchorman where others can shoulder some of the burden. Admission allows them free reign and the outcome is less than impressive.
The film follows Portia Nathan (Fey), a Princeton admissions officer who is out for a promotion. However when she is given the application of an extremely talented but unsuitable student called Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) she learns he may well be the son she gave up for adoption. As she tries to help him get into college she must also decide whether or not to tell him, something made more difficult when Jeramiah’s school principal John (Rudd) starts sticking his nose in.
Predictable, uncomfortable and badly written, Admission only really shines during the films few and far between dramatic moments. When Portia finally tears into her much deserving mother Susannah (an excellent Lily Tomlin) the film finds a little bit of purpose for one of the few moments in the film. The comedy, while chuckle inducing, never feels genuine and the film suffers because of it.
Fey is a reliable lead but she fails to find the balance between the films drama and its comedy as she spends most of the film consumed by her past, rarely making any attempts at humour. The addition of Michael Sheen as Portia’s self absorbed live in partner Mark makes for a few moments of levity from the films plot but not nearly enough.
Ultimately the film never quite knows what its doing with itself and Fey just tries to steer this badly managed film in the right direction, never knowing that there isn’t one