This is not a comedy! In fact, the themes are quite serious matters. So I wish it were marketed as such, instead with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd on the poster, I figured it must be funny stuff, a rom-com; hell, I was wrong! Worse when Lily Tomlin wasn’t even making me smile! IMO, definitely, a Lost in Script and Cast film.
So, a dull Portia Nathan(Tina Fey) has been a successful admission officer at Princeton for the last 16 years. The Dean,Clarence(Wallace Shawn), is retiring and she is short-listed to be his successor, based on her great performance. She takes her work seriously, is highly ethical,…Unfortunately, she is in a loveless relationship with the Head of English department, Mark(Michael Sheen), who pats her like a dog (ha! ha! Zzzzz). Seriously, someone who is meticulous like Portia most likely has control issues, and you think she lies down like a dog? and won’t know her lover is cheating on her?! That’s when I have to remind myself This is a movie!
The bomb! Portia is a rag, and it went downhill for me this moment onward. To complicate things, shortly before the breakup, she met John Pressman(Paul Rudd),who runs an alternative school, and wants one of his students, Jeremiah(Nat Wolff), to get admitted to Princeton. I supposed John was the lightning rod for Portia to change her true colours overnight: from dull to “be yourself”. Unless, she was burn-out, hated her job, I doubt this would happen…in fact, there would be more reason for her to do the right thing!
But it turned for worse when we found out John and Portia went to same University and that she put up her son for adoption, and John thinks she and Jeremiah are connected.
Why I say worse? instead of focusing on that one story, the film kept bringing up all the background issues, and started to show us the extreme contrast between John, wealthy but choose to be free spirit, and Portia, takes care of herself all her life, and choose to be dull and predictable. The contrast between those choose to be parents and moms of children born out of wedlock … also lots of feminist references: Mark’s run away with Helen(Sonya Walger), an expert scholar of Virgina Woolf?! how depressing.
The main problem with this film is that I was lost, I didn’t know what it was about?An Ivey league school perpetuates stereotypes selecting same types of students year after year? Promotion of autodidact? Militant Feminism- men are NOT needed?! or simply finding true love? I was, and am still confused.
SKIP…haven’t read the book by Jean Hanff Korelitz of same title, perhaps, as usual, the book is better.