Rom-com 'Admission' winds up Tina Fey's biological clock

David Lee/Focus Features
Buttoned-down Princeton admissions counselor Portia (Tina Fey) falls for the scruffy charms of an “experimental school” teacher (Paul Rudd) in the wan romantic comedy “Admission.”

Photo by David Lee

David Lee/Focus Features Buttoned-down Princeton admissions counselor Portia (Tina Fey) falls for the scruffy charms of an “experimental school” teacher (Paul Rudd) in the wan romantic comedy “Admission.”

Movie Review

‘Admission’

Rated PG-13 for some profanity and sexual material.

2 Stars

Photo with no caption

Photo by David Lee

Straight-laced Princeton University admissions officer Portia Nathan is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former ...

Rating: PG-13 for language and some sexual material

Length: 117 minutes

Released: March 22, 2013 Nationwide

Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Tina Fey, Wallace Shawn, Sonya Walger

Director: Paul Weitz

Writer: Karen Croner

More info and showtimes »

Career women, you will finds happiness by embracing your maternal instincts.

Parents and high-school students, you are right to obsess over college.

Tina Fey, continue your domestication process.

These are among the depressing affirmations of “Admission,” a wan romantic comedy that picks up where “30 Rock” left off by surrounding the comic actress and comedy role model with a diverse demographic of kids, including at least one nonhuman. From “Bossypants” to bossy’s midwife: The movie milks the motherhood theme with such vigor it even requires Fey’s character to help a distressed cow deliver her calf.

“Admission” casts Fey as Portia Nathan, a “superstar” admissions counselor at Princeton who describes herself as “an entire nation’s application parent.” She’s a surrogate mother of sorts to a world of hopeful would-be Ivy Leaguers — a coast-to-coast gaggle of “perfectly nurtured, organically fed, well-tutored offspring.”

Off the job, Portia, of course, is childless and unmarried, despite her long-term relationship with a jerk of an English professor (Michael Sheen) whose fecundity is avouched when he impregnates the campus Virginia Woolf scholar. This news leaves Portia more vulnerable than usual to the scruffy charms of an available teacher (Paul Rudd) at a nearby “experimental school,” where students learn how to build “sustainable irrigation systems.” The teacher is as free-spirited, nomadic and earnest as Portia is buttoned-down, stable and wary. Think they’ll meet in the middle? And why is the teacher so eager for Portia to accept gawky autodidact prodigy Jeremiah Balakian (Nat Wolff) into Princeton? (Even when it portrays school administrators and policies as less than perfect, the movie functions as an infomercial for the university, which explains Princeton’s cooperation with the filmmakers.)

Adapted by director Paul Weitz (“About a Boy”) and scripter Karen Croner from a 2009 novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz, “Admission,” to its credit, springs a few surprises during its protracted third act. These twists aren’t enough to make the movie more than “nice” and “cute,” however; neither is the presence of Lily Tomlin as Portia’s testy feminist mother, a woman with a Bella Abzug tattoo and a pair of rescued greyhounds named Betty and Gloria.

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