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article imageReview: 'Admission' makes the cut Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 24, 2013 in Entertainment
'Admission' centres on two people who are forced to re-evaluate their life choices when they are confronted with opposing views.
Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are Hollywood's comedy sweethearts. Almost everybody loves them and their work. Of course that wasn't a guarantee that Admission would work, but it wasn't a detriment either. But while the film gets high scores, it's not passing with flying colors.
Portia Nathan (Fey) has dedicated her career to Princeton University. She helps decide the fate of thousands of applicants, fulfilling the dreams of one per cent and crushing the hopes of the other 99. Their motto is: "If this is the right place for you, this is where you'll end up." Competing for a major promotion, Portia agrees to give a presentation at an alternative school. But the school's founder, John Pressman (Rudd), has an ulterior motive for inviting Portia - he believes one of his students is the son she gave up for adoption.
With a great cast that also includes Lily Tomlin and Michael Sheen, the talent is more than capable of delivering convincing and humorous laughs. And they do. Much of the film is spent in stitches as Fey traverses the complexities of possible motherhood, and Rudd tries to balance his wants with his son's needs. In one of the opening scenes, a neighbor thrusts the responsibility of watching her children onto Portia in spite of her protests. The kids are later found screaming in the hallway while Portia sits helplessly in the living room. "Kids are like pit bulls - they can smell fear," she professes as the mother asks what happened. Because of her own undesirable upbringing, Portia never wanted children.
Tomlin is awesome as the feminist, difficult-to-relate-to mom who has a tendency to share too much information, and Sheen's cowardly persona is quite comedic. As he gives Portia attributes of a dog (loyal, good companion) and repeatedly pats her on the head, his ignorance of how inappropriate this is is amusing.
This, however, is also where the film's problem lies. It feels punchy. There are comedic lulls where the story simply progresses and then there is a succession of jokes followed by another lull. There's nothing wrong with the story or comedy, but they're not cohesively put together.
There's generally a lot going on in Portia's life: workplace rivalries and pressures; a complex domestic situation and an even more convoluted relationship with her mother; and the possibility that she may have met her son. As a result, she cries a lot – and usually at the most inopportune time (a running joke throughout the film).
Portia's son displays characteristics he may have inherited from her, making it even harder for her to walk away. That, and John's insistence that this kid would benefit if she took an interest. Toeing the line between Princeton admissions officer and invested party, Portia does what she can and often what she shouldn't.
Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd and Lily Tomlin
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