I can hear the pitch: take two of the funniest people in Hollywood, put them in the same movie and put a few punch lines in the trailer. What’s the catch? Oh, it’s not a comedy.
In my imagination this is how the new film “Admission” came about. While it does have its humorous moments it’s really a film about love and life and what we must give up to seem happy to others. I think.
Portia Nathan (Fey) is an admittance officer at prestigious Princeton University. While preparing to screen applicants for the class of 2016 she receives a phone call from a former college mate of hers named John Pressman (Rudd). John has started his own “new age” school and asks Portia to stop by to address his students interested in secondary education. Portia has no intention of doing so but a mis-guiding GPS sends her down the dirt road to the school. There she is introduced to Jeremiah (Nat Wolff). He’s quite intelligent, Paul tells Portia. And he might also be your son! (Cue the loud music: BUM! BUM! BUM!
If there is one word to sum up the film it’s FLAT. There are occasional emotional moments but all in all you really don’t end up caring for these characters. Which is a shame because I know the actors are trying. Both Fey and Rudd are strong actors who generally make things better when they show up on screen. But here they only manage to make things tolerable. Rudd’s John is all over the map…sad, funny, romantic but never deciding which guy he wants to be. He’s well meaning (heck, he’s the father of a 12 year old Ugandan boy he adopted while working in the country). Fey is similar. She purports to be a strong minded administrator but she’s really an emotional wreck. Thankfully Lily Tomlin shows up occasionally to give the film whatever life it has. The script was adapted from a novel but I can’t imagine the book (or the characters in it) being this un-interesting.