Admission is an altogether pleasing entry in the romantic comedy genre, with genial, three-dimensional performances from stars Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Lily Tomlin, and Nat Wolff. It's a no-brainer to finally have two of the most likable comic talents in Hollywood appear opposite each other in a smallish and smart comedy, and although it would be easy for Fey and Rudd to skate by on their respective charms, Admission isn't quite as fluffy as the trailers would have you believe.
The film is bit like director Paul Weitz's 2002 film About A Boy, in that a grown-up is forced by a precocious child to reassess his/her life. In the film, Fey's character Portia Nathan has already been facing some major life changes when she meets an incredibly smart young Princeton hopeful named Jeremiah Balakian (Wolff) whose life she has the power to change. Portia is an admissions officer for Princeton who's spent her whole life trying to be the opposite of her mom Susannah (Tomlin), a first-wave feminist who is as quick to chop her own wood as to wield a shotgun at an unwelcome houseguest. Portia has a passionless relationship with a Princeton professional (Michael Sheen) who awkwardly pats her on the head when she's feeling amorous, but she sucks it up and is happy, more or less. Their Ivory Tower lifestyle of cocktail parties and conferences isn't conducive to having children, something she thought they agreed on until Mark leaves her for his pregnant mistress. Portia is left to find out what she wants for herself, and begins to realize what her dreams don't look anything like she thought.
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Like its title, Admission works on several levels. There is plenty here about motherhood and the many forms it takes, from the interest the admissions officers take in their own applicants to Portia's relationship with Jeremiah. Portia and Susannah's relationship could have been explored more, especially in light of the generation gap between first wave feminists and the women who enjoy the fruits of their labor; it's loaded and bristling with resentment and pain that speaks to the greater political dynamic as much as it does the mother/daughter relationship. There's a slightly mean subplot about workplace politics among women with Portia, her competitive coworker Corinne (Gloria Reuben), and their boss Clarence (Wallace Shawn), and it would have been interesting to explore that dynamic as well, especially since Corinne goes out of her way to point out she's a working mom, which means Portia is saddled with extra work because she has all that extra time what with not being a mother.
Paul Rudd is one of the most charming actors in Hollywood. Pairing him with Fey is a genius move, but a dangerous one. They could have easily fallen into a broad slapstick, but they're actually complimentary, bringing out a warmth and depth that could have easily been overlooked or underplayed. There's even a little touch of About a Boy in Rudd's John Pressman, a former classmate of Portia's who spends his time running around the world to fix other people's problems instead of facing his own. John adopted a kid on his travels, the adorable and, yes, precocious Nelson (Travaris Spears), a relationship that's funny but also quite tender. It's no secret that the yin and yang of John and Portia are meant to balance each other out over the course of the movie, and although things get a bit rushed near the end, it's still sweet to watch it unfurl. Wolff, who used to appear on the kids' show The Naked Brothers Band, is invigorating to watch as an autodidact whom John has taken under wing.
Admission is intricately constructed from the inside out, by which I mean if it had a weaker script or flatter direction or a less talented cast, it would be filed away and forgotten like so many other dusty rom-coms. Luckily, the end product is richer and more nuanced. It's not fair to compare Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon on 30 Rock to Portia, especially since Fey didn't write the script for Admission. The parallels are hard to miss, though, especially given each character's marital status and decidedly ambivalent attitude towards children. (Coincidentally, Sheen also played a Liz Lemon love interest on 30 Rock.) At some point, Liz Lemon became less of an ally to brainy single women and more of a caricature; it didn't feel like she was laughing with the Liz Lemons of the world but more at them. It's hard not to feel a little bitter about it.
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Although Portia is more sympathetic, Fey brings the baggage of Lemon with her to future endeavors, or at least to those roles where she plays brainy single women questioning their childless lives. (Let's not forget that Lemon was married and mommy'd up by the end of the show, either.) At the same time, these questions are relevant to many women's lives. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't; similarly, filmmakers are damned if they do and damned if they don't. At the very least, it's refreshing to see a romantic lead in her thirties treated like an attractive, sexual being instead of a punch line. Susannah is also portrayed as a sexy, beautiful woman that men still flock to, too.
Despite these misgivings, I was won over by Admission, which, frankly, left me a little verklempt by the end.
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Please be aware that this post contains major spoilers from last night's The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead always warned us that no one was safe, and on Sunday night, the scarily popular AMC series made good on that promise. Two (possibly three) beloved characters bit the dust, in brutal fashion. When the prison inmate Rick left for dead miraculously survived, he led the walkers right into Rick's safe haven and set off the prison alarm system to attract more walkers to the hulking institution. Our gang did a pretty good job of securing themselves in the face of sheer death, but not everyone was so lucky.
T-Dog and Carol get pinned down in a hallway, and T-Dog sacrifices himself to save Carol, forcing us to watch as two vicious walkers rip him limb from limb. Daryl later finds Carol's scarf and assumes she perished with T-Dog, but that element remains unclear. And while watching T-Dog die was brutal and painful, that wasn't even the worst the episode had to offer. Lori's baby was on the way, and she was without her trained nurse.
While she, Maggie, and Carl seek refuge in a boiler room, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) goes into labor and Maggie has no choice but to do the job Carol's not around to do. Of course, the birth is difficult. Lori isn't dilated and she's bleeding, meaning Maggie has to give her a c-section, but without modern medicine it will surely kill her. Maggie rescues the baby, leaving an unconscious Lori on the floor. Either Carl or Maggie has to put Lori down, in order to assure she doesn't turn into a walker, and young Carl insists on taking the gun himself. All we hear is the gunshot before Carl's stoic face emerges and breezes past Maggie, but in that dearth of flamboyant emotion, we feel the true effects of the tragedy. It's the final straw in Carl's journey to adulthood at age 13.
Click here to see all 16 of TV's most moving deaths.
[Photo Credit: AMC]
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Hollywood actor Matt Damon and his fiancée Luciana Barroso are expecting their first child together.
Barroso, who Damon proposed to shortly before Labor Day, is three months pregnant, according to TV show Access Hollywood.
The child will be Damon's first—Barroso has a six-year-old daughter, Alexa, from a previous relationship.
The news comes just one week after Damon talked about his desire to be a strong father figure.
He said, "I have longed for (kids) in real life, anyway. I just have to learn how to be a disciplinarian.
"Now I'm good at winding kids up, but I'm not so good at chilling them out."
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Just when 51-year-old Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) should be enjoying the fruits of his labor the successful ad sales exec's life suddenly takes a detour. First he is demoted from his long-term job when the magazine he works at is gobbled up by a multinational conglomerate. Then to add insult to injury Dan must answer to a new boss Carter Duryea (Topher Grace) a whiz kid half his age with no experience in ad sales. Carter may seem like your garden-type variety corporate climber but he is dealing with his own personal problems after being dumped by his wife (Selma Blair) of seven months. Dan's home life is equally topsy-turvy. Just as his oldest daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson) leaves the nest to start her first year of college Dan is shocked when his wife tells him she's pregnant. Somehow the two men find some common ground and form an uneasy friendship trying to keep the magazine--and its employees--from becoming victims of a corporate takeover. But their burgeoning relationship is put into jeopardy when Carter begins dating Alex. Uh-oh.
Dennis Quaid is at the top of his game. Bursting out on the scene in 2004 with no less than four films--The Alamo The Day After Tomorrow The Flight of the Phoenix and now In Good Company-- Quaid has definitely saved the best for last. The talented actor adds texture to Dan an old-school ad guy who has built his stellar reputation on a handshake but who is forced to shift gears ever-so-slightly to stop his life from unraveling. Similarly Topher Grace offers subtle and refreshing complexities to a character who could have easily been formulaic. He delicately shows how lonely and ultimately unfulfilled Carter is with his fast-moving corporate life. Carter does find some solace with the lovely Alex even if his affections may be a tad misplaced. Johansson does another nice job as Dan's independent daughter especially in her emotional scenes with Quaid but she is somewhat wasted when compared to her male co-stars.
The fact this film went through several title changes--first it was Synergy then Good Company to finally In Good Company--sent up some red flags but we need not have worried. Under the expert guidance of writer-director Paul Weitz who brought us the utterly delightful About a Boy Company's sweet sentimentality easily washes over you. Weitz has a knack for taking something not necessarily original and making it so. For example taking aim at the old school vs. new school in the corporate world isn't a new concept but at least Company gives a pretty real look at the inner workings of large company. It rarely goes the predicted clichéd route. Even when it does--say when Dan and Carter finally band together to save their sales team which of course you know they have to do--it's still done with a fresh perspective. Then by adding the personal touches between the characters especially the love story between Carter and Alex the film is only enhanced. Job well done.