Now that Tina Fey’s run on 30 Rock is over, it seemed like a natural transition for her to move to the big screen. Let’s face it, she’s one of the funniest and intelligent people in the world of entertainment. The switch from television to film can be tough for some stars, but Fey has had success on film in the past with Baby Mama and more recently with Date Night. This week her star power will be tested when she takes her first headlining role post 30 Rock in Admission opening this Friday.
In Admission, Fey stars as Portia Nathan, a career driven Princeton admissions officer who has a perfectly normal life. That is until the head of an alternative school named John Pressman (Paul Rudd) comes into her life. John represents student Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) and wants to help him gain admission to Princeton. Jeremiah is brilliant, but comes with some baggage both academically and personally. Some of the baggage includes the assumption that Jeremiah is Portia’s son she gave up for adoption when she was a college student. Portia’s orderly personal life and occupation become intertwined and unraveled with the revelations of her past actions.
Admission may be marketed as a quirky romantic comedy, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure there is romance between Rudd and Fey, but for the most part the film is a character study that has more drama than laughs. Fey once again shows her audience that not only can she make you giggle, but she can make you feel her loneliness and painful regrets about her life. Fey shows her dramatic side capturing Portia’s straight-laced persona as well as her social awkwardness trying to connect with the people around her. Fey and Rudd both show there’s much more to that acting repertoire than impressions, jokes and slapstick. Also keep an eye out for Lily Tomlin as Portia’s scene-stealing feminist mother Susannah.
Unfortunately Admission suffers from what most character study films deal with: a very slow build. The acting is great, but the film never seems to get out of second gear at times with the pace. I did appreciate the Admission‘s realistic ending, but viewers may be looking for a nice happily ever after conclusion based upon opinions on the movie’s marketing campaign. You’re not going to get that outcome, per say, with this film. I like that Fey and Rudd showed their softer sides, but it seems like a waste not to use their comedic gifts to lighten up the subject matter from time to time. Although the movie is slow paced, Tina Fey carries the movie with her dramatic turn. Overall I give Admission 2 1/2 potatoes out of 4.
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