Film review: Admission - Tina Fey stumbles into a world of unfunny


It can be painful to watch talented performers try to shoehorn themselves into movies out of a need for mainstream acceptance.

Tina Fey is a brilliant comedian who has stumbled into a world of unfunny here. She plays Portia, a Princeton University admissions officer who's been 16 years in her job. She has no kids and, 10 minutes in, no partner after her wimpy professor boyfriend (Michael Sheen) betrays her.

Everything in Karen Croner's script serves to make Fey either brittle and shrill, or smug and controlling. It's like 10 awful Sandra Bullock roles in one.

Then romance appears out of nowhere in the form of Paul Rudd, a teacher at a progressive school and almost the definition of too good to be true – rich, single, funny, knows about irrigation and how to deliver a calf. Oh, and he's adopted a Ugandan orphan. Is this man actually human?

He's also desperate for her to get to know Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), his most brilliant student. This is where the movie picks up interest, but then loses it again in one flat comic setpiece after another. You wonder how anything that stars Fey and Rudd and Wallace Shawn and Lily Tomlin (as her rad-fem mother) could fail, but it does, and abjectly.