At first glance, Admission looks like a Hollywood formula romantic comedy. While it does have some formulaic elements, there are also subtle complexities which I was very drawn in by, and am moved to write about.
Last week’s Sunday NY Times described Admission as a “momcom,” a comedy about a woman in her later child-bearing years who has given her life to her career and begins to question her decision to forgo motherhood, and finds romance and mishaps along the way. This is a type of movie that is not new (see: Baby Boom), however the topic seems to be more common with each passing year.
Tina Fey plays a college admissions officer who is committed to her career and life as an (uptight) adult without children (and her long-term boyfriend who is the head of the English Dept.). Her own mother, played by the ravishing Lily Tomlin, is a free spirited super-feminist who fixes her own bike and lets her dogs hunt for their own food in the woods. Usually, I find this kind of characterization off-putting: One of them is uptight and the other is a free spirit! Hilarious! And in their first scene together, I began to cringe at this too-often used plot tool of a hippie mom having a straight-laced daughter. However, as the movie progressed I sensed a more complex relationship between Tina and Lily’s characters. I’m not sure if it’s in the writing or their expert performances which caused this, but either way I enjoyed it, and felt personal pangs as a daughter and a potential mother.
This parent-child relationship is the center theme of the movie for me, and is told through several different examples and their inter-weaving. There’s a moment for each parent-child pairing in which the child expresses, “Why don’t we ever do what I want?” and the parent realizes that they have been forcing their own dreams/ambitions/desires on their offspring. This is a complicated issue for both parents and children, and I think it will resonate with almost everyone.
As a woman in my late twenties, the idea of children and family is definitely on my mind. I think most women (and men too, although it’s a little different) face this decision at certain points in their lives: do I want to have children or not? For women, we have to decide by a certain age because biologically we cannot bear children after a certain point. There’s also adoption, however that is a difficult and long process, and requires it’s own set of complicated decision-making. And even if you know you don’t want children, accidental pregnancy can happen. Or if you know you do, you might not be able to. And how to we balance our careers with family? How do we make enough money to support that potential family? And what if we’re terrible mothers? And what if… So many things to worry and think about!
Last year Janet and I saw What to Expect When You’re Expecting (I know, what?! We’re indie film geeks but we like to see the occasional ridiculous chick-flick– sidenote: I have a problem with that label!). In a pivotal scene, Jennifer Lopez’s character declares, in tears, “I can’t do the one thing a woman is supposed to be able to do!” Yeah. That movie was AWFUL. The Times listed it among the other momcoms discussed in that article. That movie set women back about a million miles. Admission is very different– it’s entertaining while at the same time addresses similar issues intelligently. It’s not perfect, of course, but it did a solid job of making me think and feel things. And also laugh.
I haven’t even said a word about Paul Rudd and how adorable he is. But we all know that, right? Also my different thoughts on the whole “romance relationship” part of the movie…
I think I need to see it again.
Admission opens tomorrow, Friday 3/22 at Images Cinema and will be playing for two weeks. Visit our website for more info and showtimes: www.imagescinema.org