STARRING: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff, Lily Tomlin, Gloria Reuben, Wallace Shawn, Michael Sheen, Sonya Walger, Brian D’Arcy James, Olek Krupa
DIRECTED BY: Paul Weitz
Some movies are mismarketed, and Admission was definitely a movie mismarketed. You can’t market a dramedy as a mass-market comedy simply because it has Rudd and Fey in it… or as a romcom, because it is barely a romantic comedy. Fey and Rudd have zero chemistry in the film, and share only a few “romantic” scenes together.
The film is about regret and self-discovery. I know, mindblown, right? Well, the truth is that the film isn’t about Rudd and Fey hooking up, it’s about Fey’s character coming to terms with a baby she gave up for adoption while in college. Rudd doesn’t contact Fey because he wants a booty call… he wants to introduce her to someone (Wolff) he believes is the son she gave up. And there are a lot of similarities, and suddenly someone who doesn’t want kids, wonders what her life would like with a kid in it… and if she could possibly make up for lost time.
It’s not a bad plot, but Fey and Rudd barely commit to it. I mean, these two have worked together before and they have zero chemistry. Yes, they can both talk sarcastically at each other, but they can’t fake sexual chemistry. So the film fails as a romcom. As a dramedy about self-discovery, it almost works. It falls to be taken seriously, because of silly supporting characters. Fey is surrounded by characters written in such a way that you have to hate them, or not take them seriously. Tomlin was clearly a terrible mother. Reuben is a heartless adversary. Shawn is the silly boss. Sheen is a silly “clearly not right for her” boyfriend. Walger is another heartless adversary. Krupa is a horny old man. Even Rudd struggles to be likeable. The only characters likeable are Fey, and Wolff (who is written so closely to Fey’s personality, in an attempt to push the mother/son angle).
It’s not a bad film, but it’s not a great film. If I was a studio head, I’m not sure what I would have done with this finished product. I probably would have sent it back for reshoots, because it doesn’t know what kind of film it wants to be. Taking a second pass at the film would have helped it more than just releasing it and mismarketing the film. I don’t know what director Paul Weitz was doing here. He’s directed much better films before, notably American Pie and About A Boy. Especially considering how About A Boy is close in tone to what Admission wanted to be, it’s even more disappointing that this film just didn’t work. As it is, you can totally skip this film. I can’t really think of a reason to recommend it, even though I’m not completely tanking the film in grading.
FINAL GRADE: C-