Ahhh, romantic comedy, that most elusive of genres: often attempted, so rarely successfully.
You can count on one hand the number of good romantic comedies in any given year. Not that people aren't making them -- they just don't do them very well.
Which is why Admission is such a treat.
Starring Paul Rudd and Tina Fey, it is sly and charming, occasionally sharp-edged but full of feeling. It's that rare rom-com that gets both halves of the equation right.
Written by Karen Croner (from a novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz) and directed by Paul Weitz (About a Boy), Admission starts with Portia (Fey), an officious admissions officer at Princeton University. But, as her boss (Wallace Shawn) notes, Princeton has dropped from being the top-rated college in the annual ranking to No. 2. So they have to try harder to regain the top spot.
Which, according to this film, is part of the brief of the admissions officers. Their job is to weed out the also-rans and skim the cream off the pile of applicants for one of the toughest colleges in the world to get into. It's like a sacred trust, one that Portia takes way too seriously. Which is why she doesn't realize that her long-time live-in boyfriend, a snotty English professor (Michael Sheen), is not just straying but ready to flee.
She heads out on her annual series of site visits to high schools in her region -- the Northeast -- eventually landing at an alternative high school in New Hampshire, run by John (Rudd). He's got a student -- a very nontraditional achiever named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) -- who he'd like Portia to consider.
Oh, and though she doesn't recall him, John lived in the same dorm as Portia in college. He was friends with her best friend -- and not only knows a long-hidden secret about her but knows even more about it than she does. How to tell her?
This review continues on my website.