Be forewarned: “Admission” is being marketed as a romantic comedy, but it most assuredly is not. Certainly, it has comedic moments, but they’re few and front-loaded.

Instead, “Admission” is a dramatic film with comedic undertones about a career oriented woman facing a mid-life crisis, who may or may not have just been brought into contact with the child she gave up for adoption back when she was in college.

Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) is an admissions officer at Princeton University. She makes her living reviewing college applications, and determining whether or not the student in question is up to Princeton standards. She receives a call from John Pressman (Paul Rudd), a teacher at an alternative high school, to come visit his campus and meet with a student who will be applying to her school named Jeremiah Balakian (Nat Wolff). When she does, she and Pressman hit it off, and an awkward romance ensues. Things get even more awkward for Portia when Pressman informs her that he thinks she’s Balakian’s biological mother. Pressman actually went to college with her long ago, and knew she had given up a baby for adoption, and now he has reason to believe that Balakian is that child.

This all happens at a difficult time for Portia. She’s having issues in her love life, problems with her mother (Lily Tomlin), and at work, her boss (Wallace Shawn) will be retiring, which opens up the top position in her department. She needs to be at the top of her game if she hopes to land his job.

My main issue with “Admission” is the marketing switcheroo, which I can’t stand. I suppose it makes sense, given that the stars are both comedians, to emphasize the film’s funny elements. And since they do have a romance in the film, why not pitch it as a romantic comedy? But the truth is that scales tip heavily towards the dramatic in this film, and the romance between Rudd and Fey isn’t the chief focus; Fey’s crumbling life, and her struggle to get the child she gave up for adoption into Princeton is.

Here’s what I always think about movies that pull the “Switcheroo”: If the studio thinks they would sell more tickets if they market it as something it’s not, it’s a great sign the movie sucks.

“Admission” certainly doesn’t suck, but it is perplexing as to what they were thinking making it. It’s funny, but not consistently so. It has a romance between the leads, but it’s not all that romantic. And finally, there’s a serious level of straight storytelling focusing on Fey’s character’s search for the truth, for emotional balance, etc… but it doesn’t have all that much weight. It felt to me like a movie that got pulled in several directions, and wound up losing any hope it might have had of being genuinely good if it had picked one and ran with it.

Again, it’s certainly not a terrible movie or anything, there certainly are mild comedic moments interspersed throughout that make the runtime more enjoyable, but it’s not something that I would recommend, either.


Daniel Fogarty

22 thoughts on “Admission

  1. I saw this last night and liked it quite a bit. I thought the previews were terrible, so I was actually glad to find that the film didn’t align with them, haha.

    • I thought the trailers were terrible too. Lol. So I’ll give you that – that it was better than the trailers. I still didn’t think it was that great or anything, personally. 😦

      Glad you enjoyed it though!

  2. Not the first or last time this will happen. A college friend went to a Meg Ryan movie, back in the day, that was advertised as a romcom and turned out to be a family drama about alcoholism or addiction. Her family went to it as a group and were really unhappy because her family went through something similar. They would have not gone to it had they known what the movie was really about. At the time, when enough people were complaining that the issue finally got addressed, I remember hearing about how if a movie is thought to be a little to ‘heavy’ and they are afraid views might avoid it, they give it a romcom treatment to get people into the theaters. Personally, I think it is worse to advertise one type of movie and give the viewers something else. Damages the reputation of the production company.

    • I’m sure the marketing department had notes to work off of, they didnt just choose what to emphasize on their own, you know?

      Meanwhile, not that this film was “heavy” or anything, but that’s exactly why switches such as these really bug me. You know? show the movie for what it IS! Gosh! 😀

  3. I’ll catch this on DVD to continue the long lasting tradition of watching everything Michael Sheen graced with his presence, no matter how awful the movie or short the performance 🙂

    • He’s barely in it. Sounds as if you already suspect that. LOL. If I cant work a mention of his character into my review, you might want to take that as a sign 😉

      Not that that will temper your completionist agenda, of course! 😀

  4. That’s disappointing to hear. I was planning to see this one since I like Tina Fey but I guess I’ll skip this one then. It hasn’t been a very good year for film so far, hopefully by next month when To The Wonder and The Place Beyond The Pines come out it will improve. Nice review.

    • You know, if you’re a big Fey fan you might like it, because she definitely is the lead here. I cant recommend it though, its kind of all over the place 😦

      I’m rooting for Place Beyond the Pines, too. I really am.

  5. I’d been wondering about the “switcheroo” here… because I remember the initial trailer, which emphasized the long-lost son aspect, and seemed like it was at least semi-dramatic. Then the TV spots out now are making it out to be “Whoa, Tina Fey and this guy are in the shower together, awkward romance ahoy!” Left me wondering if it was the same movie altogether. I agree with you about the “switcheroo” indicating a lack of confidence in the film.

    • For good reason, too, I dont know how the hell they WOULD market this movie, aside from taking like the four or five funny moments and stringing them together as a trailer and then pitching it as a comedy. 😦

      What else is there to sell? Not too dramatic drama about a woman who tries to get the child she gave up for adoption into an Ivy League School at the risk of her career?

      Trust me, that sentence sounds 10x funnier than it was. 😮

  6. I think I gave this a harsher score than it deserved, but I just could not get passed how bland and slow it is. Glacial pacing and an absent message really make Admission a chore to sit through, which is no small feat because the cast- whether principal or secondary- is so damn likable. I had a great time with Tomlin’s character, and I think Paul Rudd is impossible to hate even at his worst while Fey is a great champion of every-woman frustration.

    They just get eaten up in the erratic doldrums of Weitz’s direction and storytelling.

    • Bland and slow is right. I cant decide which of those should take precedent and become the “operative word” LOL

      You’re right, the cast is great, it certainly wasnt the fault of any of the performers, here. I just wonder when this film ever sounded like a good idea. I mean, even on paper it had to seem dull, no?

      Oh well, maybe somebody owed somebody a favor or something… 😦

  7. Pingback: Admission Review: One for the Waitlist | Rorschach Reviews

  8. Pingback: LAMBScores: Destruction in an All-Girls College | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

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