Is Not Hard
To Get Into
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Yes, the film’s title is a double entendre. “Admission” is both about a college admissions counselor and about a secret admission from her past.
When uptight Princeton staffer Portia Nathan makes a recruiting call on an alternate high school, she not only hooks up with old boyfriend John Pressman who runs the school, but she meets a gifted kid who might just be the child she gave up for adoption years ago.
It’s billed as a comedy, but whoa! -- the subject sounds serious to me.
“Admission” is bringing hesitant smiles to faces this week at the Tropic Cinema.
The cast is one that can almost pull it off. Tina Fey (TV’s “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live”) as befuddled Portia. Paul Rudd (“Dinner for Schmucks,” “Our Idiot Brother”) as old beau John. With backup performances by Michael Sheen (“Frost/Nixon,” “The Queen”) as Portia’s current weaselly boyfriend; Lily Tomlin (TV’s “West Wing,” “Nine to Five”) as her feisty mom; plus Wallace Shawn (“The Princess Bride,” “My Dinner With Andre”) and Gloria Reuben (TV’s “ER,” “Lincoln”).
And young Nat Wolff (TV’s “The Naked Brothers Band,” “New Year’s Eve”) plays the part of Jeremiah, the boy in question.
Based on the book by Jean Hanff Korelitz, “Admission” is directed by Paul Weitz (“About a Boy”). “The situation is fun because Tina is so desperate to get this one kid into the school,” says Weitz.
Here, Tina Fey reprises her unlucky-in-love career woman persona as an admissions counselor at Princeton University. However, in real life Tina failed her own admissions interview to that prestigious institution.
“My mom wanted me to apply to Princeton, because she had this dream since I was a kid that I would apply to Princeton,” she tells the story. “And it was not happening. I had this small plaid skirt on, and a suit jacket, and I just wasn’t bringing it.” As Tina shook the interviewer’s hand, she was thinking, “Nope. I can tell. I can tell from the moment we’re meeting that you’re not into me.”
Eventually, she got accepted at the University of Virginia.
Princeton’s loss, she shrugs. But that was then. “Unlike now, where I’m dazzling,” she smiles prettily.
Director Paul Weitz chuckles at Tina’s college woes. “It probably, on some level, feels like the end of the world, whether you get in somewhere or not, but it doesn’t matter. You have to have control over your intellectual growth and your growth as a person. Good for you if you get into Princeton — that’s fantastic, but that doesn’t solve anything. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not worthwhile because you don’t achieve a specific thing. Sometimes it’s how you react to failure that makes you as a person.”
Nonetheless, Weitz believes real-life admissions officers have a really hard job. “They’re really trying to get people who are going to succeed and benefit from being there. It’s a very, very subjective one, no matter how hard they try to make it objective.”
Paul Rudd didn’t have that problem. “I never applied to any colleges,” he admits. “My parents are European, I don’t think they understood the process.”