PG-13 (strong language, sexual material); 107 min.
Tina Fey makes funny TV shows, funny movies and funny books. Director Paul Weitz often goes for something beyond funny.
She did 30 Rock and Date Night. He did About a Boy and Being Flynn.
Somewhere on the uncertain ground between the two is Admission. It's a romantic comedy -- of sorts -- about a lovelorn Princeton admissions officer forced to reconcile her judgmental job with the news that the baby she gave up for adoption 17 years ago might be applying to ... Princeton.
Portia (Fey) spends her days competing with Corinne (Gloria Reuben) to see who can be the snobbiest in front of the head of admissions (Wallace Shawn), hoping against hope to get the top job when he retires. She comes home to her English lit professor live-in beau (Michael Sheen). Quest, this new alternative school where kids learn to split wood, milk cows, build robots and think for themselves, has a star student. And his teacher, John (Paul Rudd), is determined to get Portia's attention.
There's something else John wants to get across, in between awkward moments of violating Princeton policy and instances where Portia is sure he's making a pass.
"Jeremiah -- I think he's your son."
Fey plays this inner-outer conflict well. But at her most wide-eyed and vulnerable, she still has trouble making a romance credible, even with Rudd, edgy comedy's puppy dog of a leading man.
And Weitz can't winnow the story down to a simple personal journey with romantic overtones. It's too scattered and too ambitious for a movie that often slips into feminist, academic, postponed-motherhood and "alternative"-education cliches.
-- Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service