Universal / 107 Minutes / 2013 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: July 9, 2013
Like many box office followers, I was shocked when The Admission so painfully underperformed upon its release earlier this year. I wasn’t under the impression that this Tina Fey/Paul Rudd vehicle was going to be a juggernaut or anything, but even the basic draw of their on-screen pairing seems like it should have been able to magnetize at least a marginal cross-section of 30 Rock and Anchorman fans to theaters.
But having now seen The Admission on this capable but uninspired high-definition edition, it’s crystal clear why Hollywood didn’t put much stock in the picture and why audiences didn’t respond. What seems like a good-natured comedy with perhaps a bit of an SNL-tinged streak of slapstick becomes, after maybe a thirty-minute window of wishful thinking, a woefully undernourished sad romance: what should be an extended sitcom episode turns into a treatise on serious issues and how they affect lives.
I feel an incumbent desire not to drop the bomb that you won’t find mentioned anywhere on The Admission’s Blu-ray set, so let’s just keep to what the movie’s all-too-revealing trailer shows us (and yes, all the funny parts are in the promo). Tina Fey plays an admissions exec at Princeton University, and Paul Rudd runs a progressive high school somewhere in the northeast where he has a student who seems perfect for Tina’s university’s hallowed halls. She agrees to help, he puts the hopes and dreams of a town in her hands, and a secret becomes apparent that threatens to tear them both apart.
Here’s the bummer: the last forty-five minutes of The Admission is painfully unfunny… on purpose. There’s a sequence where Rudd, Fey, and the student they’re trying to cultivate deliver a baby cow in full hijinks mode, but it seems completely unnecessary and particularly bland. Fey enthusiasts and viewers with crushes on Paul Rudd will rent this Admission disc and hope like crazy that it isn’t as mediocre as every news source has said it is, but I’d abandon hope before embarking on this one.