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Admission (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 107 minutes.

OK for children.

I used to think that Mark Waters was a genius. He had back-to-back comedic hits with Freaky Friday (2003) and Mean Girls (2004). But excellence has disappeared from his work and now heís working on a TV series called Witches of East End. I gave him genius category because comedy is, frankly, difficult. In fact, I think that comedy is the most difficult of all the performing arts.

Enter Paul Weitz, who is responsible for the brilliant About a Boy in 2002. Like Waters, he has not exactly burned as a bright star since. But now, a decade later, he directs this poignant comedy about an admissions director, Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) at Princeton. He has taken a terrific script by Karen Croner, assembled an equally terrific cast that includes Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen and the always enjoyable Wallace Shawn, resulting in a first rate comedy that comes close to equaling the quality of About a Boy.

Fey has been an exceptionally good writer. But when Iíve seen her in movies she has appeared more like a writer who has the capability of acting what she writes, but without shining as an actress. Here she shines, giving an Oscarģ-quality performance. She is joined in this regard by Rudd as a teacher who is encouraging her to admit Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), a high school senior without any apparent accomplishments, to Princeton.

There is a lot more to the film than that and it includes a scintillating performance by a hard-to-recognize Lily Tomlin, as Susannah, Portiaís bizarre mother.

This is an entertaining film with good pace and sparkling performances, one of the best Iíve seen so far this year.

March 12, 2013

 

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