Tina Fey Shines in “Admission”

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If you were to ask high school students whether they would like to spend their free time watching a movie about college admissions, there’s a good chance they’ll either look at you like you’re crazy or possibly fall into the fetal position with a stress-induced crying fit. Lucky for me, I went into “Admission” knowing only that it was a movie with Tina Fey, which was enough to fork over 10 dollars for a movie I knew nothing about. As soon as the movie opened with a shot of stacks of papers and folders, it dawned on me that everything I normally tried to avoid thinking about was going to be presented before my eyes for the next hour and a half.

Tina Fey plays Portia Nathan, a Princeton College admissions director who is introduced in the film as a powerful woman who has her life all figured out. She’s been working at Princeton for 16 years and spends her evenings reading intelligent books with her intellectual live-in boyfriend. Portia, not exactly enthusiastic about change, soon receives a plethora of news that will further complicate her simple life; she now has to compete for her newly-retired boss’s position with her equally ambitious co-worker while dealing with a breakup as her boyfriend leaves her for a perky blonde colleague.

Meanwhile, during her annual Princeton presentations at nearby high schools, Portia meets the dean at a new-age high school, John Pressman (Paul Rudd). Pressman encourages Portia to take specific interest in Jeremiah, a brilliant but very unique applicant. The story continues with Portia’s growing romantic interest in the Dean and her sudden need to make sure Jeremiah is accepted to Princeton upon learning of their possible past connection.

This unique film maintains a perfect balance of romance, drama, and comedy. It was refreshing to see Tina Fey tone down her well-known humor and instead takes on a the role of a relatable working woman. While the rest of the characters were also well cast, in a believable yet humorous way, the lack of character development, however, left questions regarding the three major characters’ background and history. However, this film and its character showed the importance of personal relationships such as parents, friends, lovers, and children. Throughout the movie, Portia begins to focus more on developing her relationships in her life and put her work aside, and by the end seems much happier.

This movie did not stress me out about college, in fact, it was quite stress-relieving. The story portrays a college admission director who, believe it or not, is just a real person and the film emphasizes the importance of being the unique individual you are.  Colleges aren’t picking students based on who is the best or worst but who would thrive the most at their school. This message often gets lost among high school students who are constantly trying to improve themselves to fit their resumé, not vice-versa. Tina Fey’s character started every high school presentation with, “Who wants to know the secret to getting in? Take your pens out… The secret is that there isn’t one.” She made the focus of her presentation to make sure the students know that there is no secret formula for getting in, no ideal resumé, or perfect essay. It all comes down to finding the school that fits you for you, not your transcript, and I think we can all use this as a reminder.