Five Questions for Admission Director Paul Weitz

by Ethan Alter March 18, 2013 6:00 am
Five Questions for <I>Admission</i> Director Paul Weitz

Tina Fey's post-30 Rock career begins in earnest with Admission, a romantic comedy set in the high-stakes world of college admissions. Don't think that qualifies as a "high-stakes" world? Then you clearly haven't had to apply to college recently. Fey plays career-minded Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan, who enjoys a meet cute with the personable principal of a progressive New England high school (Paul Rudd). Admission's director Paul Weitz, whose previous films include American Pie, About a Boy and last year's Being Flynn, spoke with us about collaborating with Fey and his own experience with higher education.

Admission: Put It on the Reject Pile

by Ethan Alter March 22, 2013 6:01 am
<i>Admission</i>: Put It on the Reject Pile

As the driving creative force behind 30 Rock (and, to a certain extent, Saturday Night Live during her tenure as head writer) for its seven-season run, Tina Fey generally tried to cut against the television comedy grain, unafraid to chase after comedy that was offbeat, ambitious and downright weird, particularly for a network sitcom. Perhaps that's why Fey's feature film career has been, for the most part, so disappointing. Instead of letting her freak flag fly, she's pursued middle-of-the-road mainstream star vehicles, from the pregnancy-themed Baby Mama (which was more sitcom-y than 30 Rock), to the "zany" night-on-the-town adventure Date Night (which managed to waste the combined talents of Fey, Steve Carell, Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, James Franco) and now Admission, which feels like an American version of those refined (re: pleasantly dull) British comedies -- think Waking Ned Devine and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel -- that only people over 40 go and see. It's mostly harmless, but also pretty lifeless.

Indie Snapshot: Being Flynn

by Ethan Alter March 2, 2012 6:01 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>Being Flynn</i>

Don't feel bad if you spend the first five minutes of Being Flynn wondering if you've wandered into Taxi Driver 2 by mistake. Director Paul Weitz unavoidably invites comparisons to Martin Scorsese's 1976 classic with an opening scene that features his star Robert De Niro -- playing Jonathan Flynn, one of the movie's three titular Flynns -- walking into a parking garage and taking a swig of an alcohol-laced drink before firing up the yellow cab he pilots for a living. The Travis Bickle resemblance grows eerier a few scenes later, when we glimpse Jonathan sitting in his cramped studio apartment, scribbling his thoughts on paper while speaking to us in voice-over. (Based on what we hear though, Jonathan's mind is a considerably less scary place than Travis's.) This clearly isn't accidental, as both De Niro and Weitz are too savvy to not recognize the iconography they're referencing. Instead, it seems like a cheeky inside joke to the movie buffs in the audience, as well as a tip-off that this won't be a Little Fockers-style phoned-in paycheck part for De Niro, but rather a role where he'll be required to actually act.

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