Narrator Film Review: Tina Fey in ‘Admission’

This week is spring break for New York City Public Schools.  In a half-hearted wish that the city’s teens are using this time to wrap up those pesky college applications, The Narrator’s Ann Lewinson brings you a review of Tina Fey’s recent release: Admission. Ann reviews films for the Boston PhoenixThe Kansas City Star, and other publications and is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and the Boston Society of Film Critics. She  also leads a NYWC workshop  for youth at The Door.

Those going through Tina Fey withdrawal should be warned that Admission, in which the 30 Rock auteur plays another uptight smarty-pants, Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan, doesn’t have many laughs. Instead this somber rom-com, based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel, finds director Paul Weitz returning to his About a Boy comfort zone, this time with two boys: teenage autodidact Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) and Nelson (Travaris Spears), the 12-year-old adopted Ugandan son of John Pressman (Paul Rudd, amiably rumpled), a Dartmouth classmate of Portia’s who runs an alternative boarding school in New Hampshire with cows instead of teachers. John tells Portia that Jeremiah is the son she gave up for adoption, and she does her damndest to get his 1.5 GPA into Princeton, but it’s Nelson who wants her to be his mother. If you’re wondering why the daughter of a famous feminist (a formidable Lily Tomlin) at Dartmouth in 1995 didn’t have an abortion, you’ve come to the wrong post-feminist chick flick.


  1. The producers obviously timed the movie to coincide with the time high school seniors are getting their thick or thin envelopes and high school juniors are starting their college visits in earnest. I know because I have just been on an exhausting spring break college tour with my daughter. We also went to see Admission. It was hard to resist. The movie gets a lot right–the “Just be yourself” mantra for one. The schools claim to want to get to know the applicants, but with competition for admission so fierce (and this the movie shows with a touch of humor), they also need to get acquainted with GPAs and SAT scores. I trust (pray) the admissions offices of most colleges are not like the one portrayed in the movie. What the movie gets wrong is having a young man apply to one school. No,no,no, no no. And never explains why it had to be Princeton. The film’s tone is a bit unsure–or maybe I went in expecting a kneeslapper– and I never believed the Fey-Rudd attraction. But I liked much about it–it’s depictions of intergenerational conflicts and, especially, of adoption, a subject close to my heart.