Princeton Provides Setting For Adaptation Of Best-Seller About College Application Process
Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) has worked for 16 years in the admissions office atPrinceton, the college regularly rated the best in the country by experts. Because of her pivotal role in picking prospective students for the highly selective Ivy League institution, the highly principled administrator often finds herself approached by pushy, helicopter parents seeking preferential treatment for their children.
That’s why she prides herself on never having compromised the integrity of the application process, a commitment also appreciated by the outgoing Dean Of Admissions (Wallace Shawn). In fact, he’s recently indicated that upon his impending retirement, he’s prepared to recommend either her or the equally dedicated Corinne (Gloria Reuben) as his replacement.
That announcement jumpstarts a fierce competition between the two colleagues, which soon has Portia venturing toNew Hampshirein search of qualified candidates. There, she visits an alternative high school whose handsome principal, John Pressman (Paul Rudd), had been a classmate of hers at Dartmouth. Sparks fly, but nothing transpires, because she’s in a committed relationship.
Instead, John just pressures Portia to interview Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), a bright but underachieving student with a woeful academic transcript. She has no problem dismissing the kid out of hand until the headmaster slips her a birth certificate showing that he’s the son she surrendered for adoption as a baby.
Suddenly, Portia’s maternal instincts kick in and she finds herself on the horns of a dilemma. Should she reject this candidate who is clearly not Princeton material, or should she bend the rules for her own flesh and blood? After all, it’s the least she could do, since she played no part in raising him.
That is the conundrum at the heart of Admission, a delightful, romantic dramedy directed by Paul Weitz (American Pie). Based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s best-seller of the same name, the film offers a very revealing peek at the cutthroat college entrance process from the gatekeepers’ point of view.
Besides the temptation of nepotism, the film revolves around the tender romance between Portia and John, which conveniently has a chance to blossom when she’s abandoned by her philandering boyfriend (Michael Shannon) upon returning home fromNew Hampshire. Meanwhile, intriguing subplots abound involving a cornucopia of colorful support characters.
For instance, itinerant bachelor John has an adopted African son (Travaris Spears) who craves the sort of predictability his settling down with a stable woman might provide. And Portia needs to mend fences with her estranged mother (Lily Tomlin), a breast cancer survivor who in turn might benefit from the attention of an ardent admirer (Olek Krupa). Additional sidebars feature memorable cameos by Roby Sobieski (Leelee’s little brother), Asher Muldoon (author Korelitz’s son) and an emerging ingénue in Nadia Alexander.
An alternately comical and thought-provoking cautionary tale that’s every bit as hilarious as it is sobering.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 117 minutes
Olympus Has Fallen
Rated R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity.
Disgraced Presidential Bodyguard Gets Shot At Redemption In High-Octane Action Thriller
While serving as the president’s (Aaron Eckhart) personal bodyguard, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) grew very close to the First Family. During his tenure at the White House, the dedicated, detail-oriented Secret Service agent also familiarized himself with every aspect of the building’s layout.
Nevertheless, Banning was reassigned to a desk job after failing to rescue the First Lady (Ashley Judd) before the presidential limo plunged off a bridge into an icy river en route to a Christmas party. Although the accident wasn’t his fault, he was left agonizing over a snap decision that might have been the difference between her living and dying.
A year and a half later, we find Banning still riddled with guilt despite receiving assurances from the Secret Service director (Angela Banning) that there was nothing he could have done. However, he soon gets that sorely needed shot at redemption when a swarm of ninjas from North Korea attack the White House, taking the president and his Cabinet hostage.
With the president and vice president (Phil Austin) abducted, the line of succession dictates that the Speaker Of The House (Morgan Freeman) assume power from a well-fortified bunker. Meanwhile, the maniacal leader (Rick Yune) of the bloodthirsty terrorists proceeds to torture his hostages, hoping to learn the codes controllingAmerica’s nuclear arsenal.
The unfolding crisis is not lost on Banning, who observes the slaughter of his former colleagues from an office window across the street. The disgraced agent springs into action and surreptitiously enters the White House armed only with a handgun and a walkie-talkie. But he still enjoys the advantage over an army of heavily-armed intruders by virtue of his knowledge of the premises’ every nook and cranny.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Olympus Has Fallen is a derivative action flick, which might be best described as a cross of Die Hard (1988) and In The Line Of Fire (1993), except that instead of Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood, we have Gerard Butler playing the invincible, two-fisted protagonist. The fast-paced film is engaging and entertaining enough to come recommended provided you’re willing to put your brain on hold and not question any of the picture’s implausible plot developments.
Featuring pyrotechnics worthy of a 4th of July fireworks display, Olympus Has Fallen is an eye-popping, patriotic, high-octane adventure that leaves no doubt about who’s the vindicated hero that kept the world safe for democracy. The Butler did it! Gerard Butler, that is.
Very Good (3 stars)
In English and Korean with subtitles
Running time: 120 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening March 29, 2013
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (PG-13 for profanity, brief sensuality and pervasive violence). Revenge-themed sequel finds the intrepid, special force Army unit on a mission to save the world while clearing its name after being framed by a traitor (Arnold Vosloo) posing as U.S. president (Jonathan Pryce). Starring Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum, and rapper RZA.
The Host (PG-13 for violence and some sensuality). Sci-fi thriller about a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) who is willing to risk everything to save mankind after an unseen race of parasitic aliens starts erasing people’s memories. With Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Frances Fisher and Bokeem Woodbine.
The Place Beyond The Pines (R for violence, sexuality, pervasive profanity, and teen drug and alcohol abuse). Gritty crime saga about a motorcycle stunt rider (Ryan Gosling) whose moonlighting as a bank robber to support his girlfriend (Eva Mendez) and newborn puts him on a collision course with an ambitious, rookie police officer (Bradley Cooper). Cast includes Rose Byrne, Ray Liotta and Bruce Greenwood.
Blancanieves (PG-13 for violence and sexuality). Silent version of a classic fairy tale, set in the 1920s, reimagines Snow White (Angelina Molina) as a bullfighter being rescued from a wicked stepmother (Maribel Verdu) by a half-dozen tiny toreadors. Ole, Sneezy! With PerePonce, Daniel Gimenez Cacho and Macarena Garcia. (In Spanish with subtitles)
Code Of The West (Unrated). Ganja documentary revisiting the heated 2011 debate in Montana about whether it should become the first state to repeal its medical marijuana law.
Mental (Unrated). Dysfunctional family dramedy about a charismatic nanny (Toni Collette) hired to raise five teenage sisters (Lily Sullivan, Bethany Whitmore, Malorie O’Neill, Nicole Freeman and Chelsea Bennett) whose institutionalized mother (Rebecca Gibney) suffered a nervous breakdown after being unable to cope with their politician father’s (Anthony LaPaglia) shameless philandering. With Liev Schreiber, Caroline Goodall and Kerry Fox.
Renoir (R for nudity and brief profanity). Costume drama, set on the French Riviera during the summer of 1915, revolving around the convalescence of Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir’s (Michael Bouquet) son, Jean (Vincent Rottiers), a soldier wounded while serving in World War I. Cast includes Christa Theret, Thomas Doret and Michele Gleizer. (In French and Italian with subtitles)
Room 237 (Unrated). Conspiracy theory documentary deciphering the subliminal secret messages supposedly hidden in the movie The Shining by director Stanley Kubrick. Featuring archival footage of Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise and the late Scatman Crothers.
Somebody Up There Likes Me (Unrated). Buddy comedy about best friends (Keith Poulson and Nick Offerman) who are both in love with the same woman (Jess Weixler). Cast includes Kevin Corrigan, Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt.
Temptation (PG-13 for violence, sexuality and drug use). Tyler Perry wrote and directed this modern morality play about a jaded marriage counselor (Jurnee Smollett) who cheats on her husband (Lance Gross) of six years with a wealthy media mogul (Robbie Jones). With Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams and Brandy Norwood.
Violeta Went To Heaven (Unrated). Francisca Gavilan stars as the title character in this reverential biopic about the life and times of the legendary Chilean singer and folklorist Violeta Parra. With Thomas Durand, Christian Quevedo and Gabriela Aguilera. (In Spanish, French and Polish with subtitles)
Welcome To The Punch (Unrated). Cat-and-mouse crime thriller, set inLondon, about a father (Mark Strong) and son’s (Elyes Gabel) attempt to elude a determined detective (James McAvoy) after a heist gone bad. With David Morrissey, Daniel Mays and Andrea Riseborough.