Like an anxious parent waiting to hear whether his kid has gotten into a good college, I worry about “Admission.” I worry that the quirky little film — which stars comedians Tina Fey and Paul Rudd but is not exactly a “Tina Fey and Paul Rudd comedy” — might never find its true audience. I worry, in short, that it’s a classic example of the cinematic underachiever: a movie with a good head on its shoulders and a sweet heart, but with an inconsistent report card, based at least on the mixed reaction at a recent screening.
There’s a high school senior with the same problem at the center of this off-kilter charmer, directed by Paul Weitz from screenwriter Karen Croner’s adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s serio-comic novel. That’s Jeremiah Balakian (Nat Wolff), a brilliant oddball with a lousy GPA who got stellar scores on his SAT and AP exams. Rudd plays Jeremiah’s principal, John Pressman, an earnest free spirit who’s so determined to get his misfit star pupil into a good school that he calls up his old college classmate Portia Nathan (Fey), a Princeton University admissions officer.