Admission

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Admission Movie Poster Image
Teen-friendly comedy has laughs but is uneven.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Life may seem like a mess, and maybe it is, but sometimes it has to be for you to figure out what you truly want. Also, surprises don't have to destabilize us forever; often, they help us find balance and get on better footing.

Positive role models & representations

Portia cares a lot for her high school applicants, even when her job requires her to be impassive. Despite her rigid ways, she's open to new information, even if it's not so flattering or is hard to deal with, and she wants to learn from her past mistakes. That said, she's very competitive with a fellow female admissions counselor, which could be seen as reinforcing stereotypes of rivalries between women.

Violence

A woman fires a shotgun at a man she thinks may be harassing her daughter. (He's not.) A woman screams at a male character.

Sex

Adult characters kiss (the first time, accidentally) and take a shower in separate but adjacent stalls. (All viewers see are their shoulders.) Sexual encounters are implied (a couple is shown kissing/groping/starting to remove clothes before and then buttoning back up after, but not during). Some frank sexual references and humor related to a woman's prosthetic breasts (her character previously had a double mastectomy).

Language

One "f--k," plus occasional use of "s--t," "screw," "prick," "damn," "twat," "a--hole," "hell," "ass," "crap," "goddamn," "oh my God," etc.

Consumerism

Lots of Princeton name-dropping and crest-flashing (and many scenes feature clothing and paraphernalia in Princeton orange). Also plenty of mentions of other schools, including Harvard, and private high schools like Hotchkiss, Deerfield, and Andover. Plus Lipton, VW, and U.S. News & World Report.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Some scenes feature college students (and the occasional high school student) drinking at parties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Admission, though overall a humorous peek behind the curtain of college admissions, does tread in somewhat serious waters, dealing with a woman's (Tina Fey) past catching up with her (in the form of a son she gave up for adoption) even as she's abandoned by a longtime lover. It's all played for laughs, of course -- as is the seriously stressful business of trying to get into college -- but tweens and teens who aren't involved in the admissions cycle might not appreciate the jokes quite as much. Expect some swearing (mostly "s--t" and "damn"), frank references to sex and drinking (primarily in college, where a teenager is shown attending a party with students who are partaking, though he doesn't drink himself), and sometimes-scathing discussions about high school seniors and their college applications.

User Reviews

Adult Written byDan G. March 24, 2013

NOT Teen Friendly!

This film is not for children of any age, including teenagers. The film portrays selfish and irresponsible sexual behavior as being OK, and one of the main ch... Continue reading
Parent of a 11, 12, and 15 year old Written bycookfan March 23, 2013

NOT FOR KIDS UNDER 16

A runninig theme is extra-marital sex - and you hear a LOT about it. Nothing is explicitly shown but much is either discussed and/or referred to.
Teen, 13 years old Written bySelena Gomez Fan March 27, 2013
Teen, 13 years old Written byGalaxyDefender August 14, 2013

13+

This movie is heart-warming & a real tear-jerker! Not what you'd expect but better if you love a good rom-com

What's the story?

Based on Jean Hanff Korelitz's same-named novel, ADMISSION stars Tina Fey as Portia Nathan, a disciplined, committed admissions officer at Princeton University. Hers is a job that many covet but may not be able to handle. Wading through mountains of college applications from tens of thousands of eager high school students is a daunting task, as is weeding through them to find the perfect freshman class. But Portia is happy. Or so she thinks, until her longtime boyfriend, a Princeton professor (Michael Sheen), informs her that he's leaving her, sending Portia into a depression spiral. But it's application season, and she has to keep it together, especially when the dean of admissions (Wallace Shawn) announces that he's retiring and that Portia and another ambitious co-worker are in the running for his job. Plus, her feminist mother (Lily Tomlin) may need her, and vice versa, more than Portia first thought. And she's got do-gooding teachers like John Pressman (Paul Rudd) begging her to visit their campus and meet exceptionally gifted students like Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), with whom Portia may actually have a lot in common.

Is it any good?

Like some of the high school seniors it depicts frantically attempting to impress during the interminable, stressful college application period, Admission tries a little too hard. Scenes are loaded with please-laugh, please-like moments: An uptight woman's mother is a sexual free spirit, leering at others openly while her daughter cringes; a guy helps a cow give birth (and he has no idea how); high school students openly deride a college admissions officer's presentation (and she responds with witty comebacks). It's all a little too much, frankly, leaving with you with the sense -- perhaps the same sense that an admissions officer gets when reading an overbaked application -- that all isn't as great as it tries to appear.

Fey and Rudd aren't the problem: They're funny, they have great comic timing, and they share an easy rapport. Perhaps it's that the film has too much good material to mine: The college application process alone has plenty of potential, and although Admission tries to capitalize on it, it does so with jokes we've heard before. It would have done better to take advantage of its behind-the-curtains point of view (as it is, except for a satisfying scene in which the admissions officers duke it out over applicants, debating the merits of each one, we don't see much that's new or surprising). While not everything on the big screen needs to be refreshing, the fact that the leads are charming and funny isn't enough to make Admission stand out above the crowd.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Admission is saying about the college application process. Is it random? Deliberate? Should the results be taken personally? How realistic do you think the version on display here really is?

  • How does the movie portray college life? Are there any scenes that show the real-life consequences of partying?

  • Parents, talk to your kids about the lead-up to the college application process. Is it stressful? Should it be? What's the best way to prepare for it?

Movie details

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