Sunday, April 14, 2013

The FTT Movie Review: Admission

Admit one
Being of a certain age -- which is to say, old enough to not be all that impressed by going to movies any more, but still possibly OK with the idea -- I didn't have too many options for a Saturday night date movie with the Shooter Wife. As exciting as it might be to watch a GI Joe movie, um, no. So instead, we chose "Admission", the latest smart romantic comedy staring Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Wallace Shawn and Lily Tomlin, and it's as smart as you might have hoped.

"Admission" stars Fey as an admissions director at Princeton University, Rudd as a principal of a developmental high school with a prize student, Tomlin as Fey's mother, and Shawn as her boss. Over the course of the movie, entanglements and choices are made, and while Fey and Rudd are both excellent at mining awkwardness into strong comedy, the movie never makes the mistake of going into farce, or losing its core nature for cheap laughs or winking asides. So when the movie goes for heart, as it does when it examines the nature of parenting and how much stress a college admission into a university like Princeton puts on everyone involved.

And the really nice thing about the movie is that it actually inspires thought and consideration later -- a hard standard for any movie, let alone a comedy -- into the very nature of the operation. Obviously, Princeton does this very, very well; the school hasn't declined in decades, but it's still compromised by the same issues that involve any human enterprise. If the school only goes with test scores and gray matter, the entrepreneurial spirit is lost; if it goes too much in the other direction, there goes the physics and the breakthroughs.

But the plain and simple fact of the matter is that something like 20 out of 21 hopefuls don't get in, and those that do had to have move the needle in some way that the other 20 didn't, The potential for abuse is off the scale, as is bias in the mix. There's so much on the line, since the point of fact is that a parent can, and will, do anything for their kids, even when it comes to actions they probably shouldn't take.

The process is as good as it can be, and can't be as good as it should be. And it's a rare moment for a comedy to get you to realize this. The end result it a movie that is a simultaneous advertisement for and against Princeton, and a small little gem. Check it out when you can.

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