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At Princeton, an admissions officer gets involved with a less-than-model potential student.
For more about Admission and the Admission Blu-ray release, see Admission Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 29, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn, Lily Tomlin, Gloria Reuben
Director: Paul Weitz
» See full cast & crew
Admission Blu-ray Review
Fails to live up to potential. Applicant denied.
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 29, 2013
Admission is a puzzling little romantic dramedy. Confused and unsure of its steps, with quirky indie aspirations and passive-aggressive tendencies, there are at least five different films vying for attention under its roof. One of those films is outstanding; smart, moving and memorable, with delicate performances and a sharp script. Four of the five, though, disparage and distract from the first, stamping out any spark that promises to sustain a flame. Most every clever moment is proceeded by a desperate joke or misplaced sight gag far beneath it, while too many resounding dramatic beats are almost immediately muffled by the thud of heavy-handed convention, both silly and lazy. All of which leads to a breezy then clunky, surprising then obvious, funny then irritating quasi-comedy that lives in fear of venturing out or taking a risk.
Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) has it all: a successful sixteen-year career as an admissions officer at Princeton University, a coveted opportunity to replace her retiring boss Clarence (Wallace Shawn), a cozy relationship with her boyfriend Mark (Michael Sheen), and the respect of her colleagues and peers. That all changes, though, when she receives a call from John Pressman (Paul Rudd), the head of a new unorthodox high school who's readying the graduation of his first senior class. John believes one of his most gifted students, Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), is the son Portia secretly gave up for adoption in college; a self-taught autodidact who decides he wants to attend Princeton University against any and all odds. Portia's boyfriend leaves her for another professor (Sonya Walger)... after revealing the woman is pregnant with twins. Portia's mother (Lily Tomlin) doesn't help, criticizing her daughter's every move without showing an ounce of compassion. Her co-worker Corrine (Gloria Reuben) takes advantage of the chaos to impress Clarence and snag the Admissions Office promotion. And she starts to develop an attraction to John, a conflict of interest she can't afford to indulge. What's an overworked, heartbroken would-be mother to do?
Fey licks her dramatic chops and proves she's more than capable of earning laughs and tears. Rudd follows suit, forging a difficult character that, without Rudd's innate easy-going charm, might not be likable in the least. Young Wolff completes the unconventional rom-com family unit nicely, even if he's given precious little to do beyond functioning as story catalyst and film MacGuffin. And it's the cast that keeps Admission going, particularly when Karen Croner's schizophrenic screenplay threatens to bring the whole thing to a sudden stop. If it isn't wince-inducing dialogue, it's inane plotting. A dual barn shower, a sloppy calf birth, a gun-toting Tomlin, a painful ventriloquist act, visions of applicants dancing in Portia's head, transparent workplace hijinks, an erratic third act... on and on and on. Every time the film breathes a breath of fresh air, along comes Croner and director Paul Weitz (the excellent In Good Company, the dreadful Little Fockers), both of whom are much too skilled at knocking the wind out of its lungs. Like Weitz's Being Flynn, Admission suffers from an identity crisis from which it never recovers, and like his American Dreamz, it's stretched in too many directions.
It's a shame too. Much of Admission is inspired, with a startling streak of heart that makes the movie feel as if it really means something. I burst out laughing on more than one occasion. I also felt for Portia. Rooted for Jeremiah. Held out hope for John, although I should admit something of a bias there: in my house, Paul Rudd can do no wrong. But it was those highs that made the film's lows amount to such crushing disappointments. Right up to the end too, when Admission zigs left instead of zagging right, for no good or discernible reason other than a last ditch gotcha-jab. Unnecessary complications, a sudden seriousness at odds with everything that's come before, and an insufferably tidy bit of narrative cleanup only makes the letdown that much more distinct. The last fifteen minutes don't marry the first ninety, they divorce from the first hour-and-a-half completely. By the time the credits roll, a sense of profound loss lingers in the air; as if so much potential had been squandered in so little time. Is Admission a waste of time? Not at all. Had I come to it with lower expectations, it might have made more of its mediocrity. It is a waste of talent, though; one that never rises to the heights Fey, Rudd and the cast are oh-so-ready, willing and able to take it.
Admission Blu-ray, Video Quality
Admission features a perfectly quaint and comfortable 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer with no real issues to report. Colors are purposefully desaturated to soothing ends, with natural skintones, pleasant primaries and satisfying black levels. Nighttime scenes and low-lit interiors are a tad murky, sure, but contrast is otherwise dialed in without incident. And while detail isn't exactly razor sharp, edges are clean and refined, textures are filmic and nicely resolved, grain is intact, and delineation is decidedly decent. Better still, significant artifacting, banding, aliasing and the like are nowhere to be found, and ringing is kept to a minimum. All told, the presentation is proficient and pleasing, even though it isn't quite striking enough to place alongside top-ranked applicants marked "Accept".
Admission Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a solid, albeit slightly unremarkable lossless mix that's nevertheless more than qualified for the task at hand. Admission is a relatively quiet, conversational romantic dramedy, with clean, grounded voices and light, enveloping ambience. LFE output is restrained but assertive, rear speaker activity is subdued but convincing, and dynamics are mild but effective. More importantly, though, everything is as it was intended to be, from the reserved, front-heavy nature of the sound design to the airy effortlessness of the soundfield. It simply isn't the sort of lossless track that stands out from the crowd.
Admission Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fey and Rudd do their best to schmooze viewers in "Early Admission" (HD, 12 minutes), an extended studio EPK without much in the way of insight or commentary on the film or its production. A much too brief, much too trite featurette on an otherwise barebones disc.
Admission Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Were Admission a Princeton applicant it would quickly be tossed in amongst the promising hopefuls too ordinary and underwhelming to compete with the cream of the crop. Fey, Rudd and their talented co-stars are wasted on an uneven script that lurches from one "funny" bit to the next, hurrying past the meat of the film in a desperate attempt to score one more cheap laugh that never really comes. Fortunately, Universal's Blu-ray release makes Weitz's unexceptional dramedy more bearable with a strong AV showing. A near-barebones disc is yet another disappointment among many, though, placing Admission somewhere in the middle of the stack.
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Admission Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Admission - July 6, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering three members the opportunity to win a copy of director Paul Weitz's Admission, starring Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Lily Tomlin, Wallace Shawn and Gloria Reuben. The comedy arrives on Blu-ray ...
• Admission Blu-ray - May 8, 2013
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of director Paul Weitz's Admission, starring Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Lily Tomlin, Wallace Shawn and Gloria Reuben. The comedy arrives on Blu-ray on July 9th.
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