On Saturday night we took a gamble and went to see Admission with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. It was a gamble because the critical reviews were tepid at best. @RottenTomatoes gave it only a 44% on the Tomatometer and the audience reviews said that only 60% of viewers liked it. The latter number has unfortunately dropped to 50%. Funny thing, though, the theater was full. Just before the movie started, I scanned the audience to get a fast and totally unscientific read on the demographic profile. I saw a lot of grownups—people like us who were looking for an enjoyable movie, something not geared to adolescent fan boys on one end or people who really need Prozac on the other.
I read a number of reviews last week and the critics seemed to be confused over whether this was a serious movie or a romantic comedy. They marked it down because they couldn’t fit it into a neat category. Yes, there are a couple of places where Admission threatens to devolve into a screwball comedy, but it (thankfully) pulls back from them. For most of the film, Fey’s character, Portia Nathan, is simply an adult with a dilemma. Paul Rudd does a fine job in his role as her counterpoint: an alternative-school teacher who walked away from the rigid system Portia Nathan defends and supports in her job as a Princeton admissions officer. Lily Tomlin is delightful as the radical and fiercely independent counterculture mom. Yes, she’s slightly over the top in places but that’s what Tomlin does.
Admission is enjoyable on several levels–as comedy, as drama, as human interest, and as an intriguing peek into the Ivy League admissions process. We weren’t looking for a big message or a political statement. We weren’t expecting Oscar-worthy acting or a superb script. We just wanted to go out on a Saturday night and have a good time. That’s what most of the other folks in the theater seemed to want as well. Yet even the younger crowd seated up front forgot to Tweet or Text and became engrossed in the movie. As well they should have, if they plan to go to college.
In its opening weekend, Admission brought in $6,154,984. On a production budget of $13 million, that’s not bad. I’m hoping it does better this coming weekend because that increases the chances that Hollywood will make more movies of different genres that grownups like to watch. I recommend Admission for people who want to enjoy themselves at the Cineplex on Saturday night. You’ll have a good time.