A Princeton gatekeeper faces a conflict of interest.
Directed by Paul Weitz(PG-13)
Any film with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd “can’t be all bad,” said Steven Rea in The Philadelphia Inquirer. But this uneven comedy about the college admissions process is done in by “outlandish contrivances” in its plotting. Fey plays an admissions officer at Princeton and Rudd a high school headmaster who’s taken a particular interest in one Princeton candidate—a senior at his school who might be the child that Fey’s character gave up for adoption years earlier. “For a while, Fey and Rudd spark each other,” as their conflict over the boy’s fate sets up the possibility of a romance, said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. But their “bantering flirtation loses heat,” leaving an audience to look for consolation in Lily Tomlin’s “brashly cutting and funny” turn as Fey’s feminist mother. “The problem is in the foundation”: The admissions game would make better fodder for drama than romantic comedy, said Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times. Worse, Fey’s character is “basically likable and then not so likable.” We’re “asked to be happy for her at the end, but she hasn’t given us enough good reason.”