A Princeton admissions officer is confronted with a series of personal and profession questions when she meets an odd yet ambitious student at an alternative high school.
Who’s in It?
Tina Fey is Portia Nathan, and Paul Rudd is John Pressman, with both offering up earnest, funny, and dramatic portraits of two very different characters set in their ways. Nat Wolff is great as the slightly strange but creative Jeremiah, and Lily Tomlin steals scenes as Portia’s scolding, hippie mother at every opportunity.
Set against the backdrop of high-pressure world of college admissions, director Paul Weitz’s comedic, romantic drama is a story about a slew of stiff adults in need of some youthful perspective. Portia lives a boring life she views as normal and exciting, keeping her desk neat and sharing a bed with her live-in boyfriend, an anemic man who loves literature and especially Virginia Woolf.
Her foil is John Pressman, the dean/founder/counselor of Quest College, an alternative school that teaches woodcutting and a healthy questioning of authority. He promotes Jeremiah, a gifted but academically averse senior. John’s sincerity both allures and scares Portia, as an admission officer, and a woman.
John, though, is a single father who can’t settle down, traveling the world with his adopted son doing good everywhere but at home. A possible revelation strengthens the connection between John and Portia, despite the efforts of her gun-toting, country-dwelling feminist of a mother Susannah. All three though are unwilling to change, sure that the life they created was the one they chose.
When Portia reads admissions, we see the potential students in the room with her, auditioning through their applications, dancing, sharing stories, and even praying. When rejected, they disappear, or worse, fall through a trapdoor. Admission to Princeton, smartly so, isn’t made to be the end-all, be-all of one’s existence, nor is it disregarded as some money-grabbing, corporate, elitist institution. As John remarks, if Jeremiah doesn’t get into this school, he’ll get into another. The path of his life is his own to create, dealing with setbacks, but never settling.
Should You See It?
A few silly moments distract here and there, but Admission is smart and charming, featuring the best of both Rudd and Fey.
Funny, and telling, whilst helping give birth to a cow at Quest College, Portia soothes, “Where is the bull that did this to you? Probably off partying with his friends.”