IMAGINE, IF YOU WILL, a screwball romantic comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, America's* sweethearts. It would be madcap! A romp! Zingers would zing, opposites would attract, and bespectacled brunettes nationwide would wallow in the satisfaction of seeing one of our own smooch Josh from Clueless. (Suck it, Silverstone!)
But alas, there's just not that much fun to be had in the new Fey/Rudd teamup Admission, directed with ponderous good intentions by Paul Weitz (About a Boy). Admission is overstuffed and clumsy, and though it takes a running leap toward madcap romcom fun, it misses by a wide margin. It's like watching a heavy-breasted factory-farmed turkey flop to the ground after trying to fly, if the turkey had a tiny brown Tina Fey updo and the ground were a metaphor for the educational system.
Fey plays an uptight college admissions officer, charged with deciding the fate of overqualified high school students who want nothing more than to go to Princeton. Paul Rudd, on the other hand, is a globetrotting free spirit who runs an alternative high school where students learn to milk cows and critique American imperialism. Opposites! Might they attract? Indeed they might, and Rudd and Fey have genuine chemistry. But the jam-packed script also wants to talk about parenting, social responsibility, American higher education and what happened to the baby Tina Fey's character gave up for adoption. (Actual subplot.) All that Serious Plot Business gets in the way of what should be the film's major selling point: two attractive, hilarious, and likeable actors being attractive, hilarious, and likeable.
Admissions suffers under the misapprehension that things we enjoy should also be good for us—it's an adult gummy vitamin of a movie, of questionable nutritional value (don't all the vitamins come right out when you pee?) and not as a good as actual candy.
Paul Rudd and Tina Fey do make out, though, so I can cross that off my Hollywood wishlist. Now, to get Christina Hendricks and Ryan Gosling some tongue time....