Admission is a fairly generic and cliche romantic comedy. Portia (Tina Fey), Princeton admissions officer, needs to loosen up. John (Paul Rudd), world traveling do-gooder, needs to settle down. There’s no way those two would ever get together. They get together. Then conflict. Then, after both make changes, they’re reunited.
I generally like Tina Fey, but she hasn’t translated well to movies, most likely because the material she’s been given doesn’t compare to what she created on 30 Rock. Paul Rudd is likeable, but mostly the same in everything I’ve seen him in. The two have some chemistry. Rudd’s character gets annoying when he’s preachy. Fey’s is a little unwatchable when she reaches an awkward situation. Both are funny at times, so the movie’s not a complete wash, just a little pedestrian.
I called the movie a romantic comedy, but the Portia-John romance isn’t the main plot of the film. John invites Portia out to New Hampshire under the guise of talking to his students about college admissions (they, be alternatively educated, throw her propaganda back in her face). In reality he has evidence that one of his students (Nat Wolff as Jeremiah) is the child she gave up for adoption back in college. Portia loses it a little and commits all sorts of ethically dubious acts to get Jeremiah into Princeton. The movie is more about Portia (yes) admitting her past and the rut she’s currently in (professionally and personally), both to her fiercely independent mother (Lily Tomlin) and herself. John too has to come to terms with giving up his worldly travels to take care of his adopted son (Travaris Spears).
Also appearing are Gloria Reuben as Portia’s rival in admissions and Wallace Shawn as her boss.