Admission (PG-13)

Comedy 117 March 22, 2013
By Stephanie Zacharek
Tina Fey is a killer comic actress—she could probably start and stop a Rolex with nothing but brainwaves. But even though she brings much more to the role than the movie asks of her, Admission doesn't have the courage to suggest that a childless woman who's doing work she loves just may have it all-- or at least her all. Fey plays Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan, a character who admittedly doesn't quite love her work, though she doesn't know that, yet. What's missing from Portia's life? Might it be . . . a child? An old college classmate, John Pressman (Paul Rudd), the half-twinkly, half-insufferable principal of an alternative high school, has contacted her about a weird but brilliant student named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff). Pressman believes Jeremiah might have a shot at Princeton. He also drops the bomb that Jeremiah might be Portia's son. Once she begins to see herself in him, Portia begins pulling Ivy League strings for this economically disadvantaged yet extraordinarily bright kid, who might be what he Princeton student body needs—and what the admissions system guarantees Princeton is unlikely to get. Great comic actresses-- like a Stanwyck or Streisand-- can have a direct line to feelings we'd rather not air. Fey is on that track; her Portia is both maddening and deeply sympathetic—there's warmth behind her crispness, even if it’s not the fresh-baked-cookie kind. If Admission were sharper, it could be the ultimate Mother's Day movie: A picture about a nonmother who cares deeply for the next generation, even when it hasn't sprung directly from her own womb.
Paul Weitz Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Tina Fey, Wallace Shawn, Sonya Walger, Lily Tomlin, Nat Wolff, Gloria Reuben, Tina Benko, Nadia Alexander Karen Croner Caroline Baron Focus Features

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