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The Mexico Ledger - Mexico, MO
  • Movie review: ‘Admission’ adaptation won’t please fans of the novel

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  • Films like this comedy have a guaranteed opening weekend audience just because a big TV star has the lead role and is all over the poster. That would be 30 Rocks Tina Fey. Those folks probably wont be disappointed in this lightweight film, even though Fey plays it kinda bland, as is called for her character.
    But fans on the novel its based on are going to have some problems, in that so many of the storys elements have been changed beyond recognition.
    The basic plot is about Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan (Fey) having some difficulties concerning Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), a bright outsider sort of high schooler whos applying there. Theres also John Pressman (Paul Rudd), who runs the developmental high school that Jeremiah goes to. And for any feminists out there, dont worry, Portias mom, Susannah (Lily Tomlin), has some screen time. Book and film are similar on those points.
    But changes in structure and plot development and message and eventual outcome are likely going to outrage certain readers.
    Of course theres the argument that the book is the book, and the movie is the movie, and I am one book- and movie-lover that accepts that. But sorry, even though this still remains a study of parent-child relationships, the tampering committed in adapting it goes far beyond anything thats called for.
    Too bad thats not the only problem. The film stands on its own, but it doesnt stand very tall.
    Both Fey and Rudd thank goodness theyre not portraying opposites who attract really underplay their roles. Rudd is usually good at this kind of thing, letting a mischievous glance reveal what hes planning to do, or putting on a blank expression that lets you feel his characters exasperation. But this time he comes across as a shy dullard, a guy who wants to do the right thing help get this kid into college but doesnt know where to begin. Fey appears to be the victim of a director whos told her to hold back, until its time to unleash her inner self, which she gets to do a couple of times in what amounts to nothing more than an emotional catfight with a coworker. You want to feel for these two nice, caring people, but its difficult when theyre so uninteresting.
    On the positive side, theres Lily Tomlin, who absolutely lights up the screen as the feisty Susannah, a single mom and an independent spirit who was, no doubt, up in the front lines when the womens movement got its start, and has never backed off. One of the films best and most meaningful sight gags is the tattoo of Bella Abzug on her shoulder. (Those of you too young to get it should Google her.)
    Page 2 of 2 - Director Paul Weitz is a little too loose with the films moods, as they change, from way up to way down, too quickly. But neither he nor scriptwriter Karen Croner can be blamed for the hard-to-take, not-very-believable ending. That problem rests solidly with novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz, and is the way she ended the book. Why couldnt the filmmakers have changed that?
    Ed Symkus covers movies for GateHouse Media.
    ADMISSION
    Written by Karen Croner; directed by Paul Weitz
    With Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Lily Tomlin
    Rated PG-13

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