Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Coming Attraction: 'Admission' + Review

This is the time of year when parents applying to schools go a little nuts. And that's putting it mildly. Whether they're worrying about their child's admission to preschool, high school or college, moms and dads are probably getting to know their postal worker a little too well, as checking and re-checking the mailbox becomes a dangerously addictive habit.

So it's perfect timing that mom Tina Fey's new movie, Admission, co-starring Paul Rudd and directed by Paul Weitz (About a Boy), hits theaters. Opening Friday, March 22, the Focus Features dramedy tackles everything from college applications, job promotions, motherhood and love, with several laughs along the way.

Fey stars as Portia, a straight-laced and driven college admissions officer at Princeton University who is living with one of the school's professors (Michael Sheen) and gunning for a promotion -- along with a rival admissions officer.

But it's her annual spring recruitment trip around the country that turns her by-the-book world upside-down. Along the way, she meets -- or rather, reconnects with -- a former college classmate, John (Paul Rudd), who's teaching at an alternative high school in Maine; her mom (Lily Tomlin), who actually has an painting on the wall of a fish riding a bicycle (hello, Gloria Steinem!); and high school senior Jeremiah, who might be the child she gave up for adoption when she was in college.

While the movie definitely has its laughable moments -- Sheen and his predicament with another Princeton prof (Sonya Walger) is one -- the movie also has its poignant ones, as Portia navigates a road trip that could lead her in unexpected places.

Her budding relationship with John is both funny and heartfelt -- after all, it is Tina Fey, folks -- but her dialogue with her mom can be, at times, caustic and harsh. It's her connection with Jeremiah, though, that breaks Portia out of her slavish routine, letting her ask herself if she has, in fact, taken the right road.

At times, I had wished for more laughs and more signature snarkiness from Fey. I mean, that's what she does best, right? That's not so much her personality in this film. And, I know. Acting. (They're not always playing themselves.) But it was the poignant moments between mom and maybe-son that really took me by surprise -- especially now that I'm a mom to two lovely little kids.

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