I’d see Tina Fey and Paul Rudd in anything, but this is pushing it. Admission is so slight that a breeze could flatten it. For ballast, director Paul Weitz (About a Boy) brings on a cast of overqualified pros. The always-welcome Fey plays Portia Nathan, a Princeton admissions officer dedicated to choosing only the best. No flaws get past her, though it takes her years to realize that Mark (Michael Sheen), the jerk prof she lives with, is a cheat.
Then, on a tour of New England schools, Portia runs into teacher John Pressman (Rudd), a former college classmate. It’s John who tells her that his student Jeremiah Balakian (Nat Wolff), an autodidact with lousy grades, may represent a part of her past she’s been avoiding. No spoilers from me, but if you can’t guess you won’t be getting into Princeton.
Will Portia bend the rules for this gifted boy? Will she get it on with John, a teacher dedicated to thinking outside the box? Will she reconcile with Susannah (Lily Tomlin), her estranged hippie-dippy artist mother? And will she be good enough to replace the retiring Clarence (Wallace Shawn) as dean of admissions?
If you care about any of this, Admission will pass the time pleasantly. I cared only about the admission process itself, which made up a large part of the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz. That stuff had bite, which is mostly lost in Karen Croner’s rom-com-y script. Like Liz Lemon, Fey’s immortal 30 Rock character, I’m allergic to all things warm and adorable. Admission gave me a rash.