in Movies

Reviews: ‘Admission’ (2013) & ‘The First Time’ (2012)

I had some time on my hands this weekend, so I watched a couple of movies. Anybody want to read my reviews? Anybody?

admission

Admission (2013)

I remember seeing the trailer for Admission when it first came out, and boy, did I laugh a lot. It wasn’t exactly in a good way (this movie isn’t even a comedy to begin with) and I figured it would either get eviscerated critically, or it would be one of those movies that looks terrible but ends up turning out pretty good.

Well, I finally saw it, and I’ve got to say, my first assessment was wrong. While it was by no means amazing, it wasn’t nearly as terrible as I expected it to be.

Tina Fey plays Portia, a Princeton admissions officer for going on sixteen years. As the yearly applicant culling approaches, Portia gets a call from John (Paul Rudd), who has helped build the Quest School, a movie free-thinking institution for kids that don’t tick the usual boxes of Ivy League schools.

One of his students might just be Portia’s son, too. Yup, you heard that right. It’s one of those movies. Wildly contrived and extremely sentimental, so you can understand my initial judgment of the movie.

However, this film isn’t as terrible as it looks from the outside. Yes, everything that happens in this movie is extremely predictable. Every character fills a rom-com archetype and right from the beginning, the viewer will know each step Portia and the supporting players will take. That predictability goes for plot, too. This is not the type of movie to pull any punches.

Despite these criticisms, it never dips into fully terrible territory. While things get too schmaltzy at time, Fey and Rudd manage to hold everything together with their charm, and the two-dimensional side characters are humorous enough to keep thoughts about just one-note they are at bay.

Everything about this movie is perfectly fine, which is a great metaphor for what I think of it overall: I won’t be going around suggesting Admission to people, but I also wouldn’t try to convince them to not watch it.

3-stars-out-of-5

  • Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd
  • Directed by: Paul Weitz
  • Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, Comedy

The First Time (2012)

Photo: Jerimaca Film

Let’s move onto the movie that I didn’t like as much. Based on what I had to say about Admission, you can guess that The First Time isn’t very good.

Following the exploits of high school senior Dave (Dylan O’ Brien) and junior Aubrey (Britt Robertson) over a single weekend, the film charts the two character’s meet-cute through their “first time.”

This film is very low-key. Not much happens in the way of plot, and while I usually love movies like that, this one didn’t quite come together for me.

The first scene of the movie, in which Dave and Aubrey first meet and exposition away their motivations for being, is pretty terrible. They are nothing but caricatures built out of high school clichés (ex: Dave is the nice guy in love with the popular girl, played by Victoria Justice, who sees him only as a friend) and one definitely gets the feeling that things are only going to get worse from there.

However, they actually get better. The wooden performances go through a Pinocchio transformation and the characterization gets much, much more interesting. The best I can liken the scenario to is this: The movie feels like a first draft script. The screenwriter wrote it in a linear fashion and got a sense of who his characters were and what kind of story he wanted to tell as he was going. But, instead of going back and rewriting the beginning, he just turned that first draft in to the studio.

So, while The First Time had a certain charm to it, it ultimately came out a little disjointed and prevented me from truly liking it (it does get points for featuring Craig Roberts of Submarine and Being Human sort-of fame, though).

two and a half stars

  • Starring: Britt Robertson, Dylan O’ Brien
  • Directed by: Jon Kasdan
  • Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama