Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff, Lily Tomlin, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn
There was a time when Paul Weitz used to make great movies. After reviving the teen sex comedy with “American Pie” and adapting the Nick Hornby bestseller “About a Boy” alongside brother Chris, the eldest Weitz stepped out on his own, continuing his fantastic track record with underrated gems like “In Good Company” and “American Dreamz.” In recent years, however, the director’s career has been marred by a series of flops, and though “Admission” is probably the best of his cinematic failures, it’s a failure nonetheless. Not even Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, arguably two of Hollywood’s most likable performers, are able to do much to save Weitz’s latest effort, and that only makes “Admission” even more of a disappointment.
Fey stars as Portia Nathan, an admissions officer at Princeton University who spends her days diligently poring over student applications and her nights with her dull, longtime boyfriend Mark (Michael Sheen), who also works at the university as an English literature professor. When she receives a call one day from John Pressman (Rudd), a teacher at the alternative academy New Quest, asking her to visit the campus to meet a promising student named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), she’s completely blindsided by John’s suggestion that the gifted teen is the child she gave up for adoption nearly 20 years earlier. Though Jeremiah is far from the typical Princeton applicant, he’s a prodigy and self-proclaimed autodidact who wants nothing more than to attend the university. But while Portia comes to appreciate Jeremiah the more time that she spends with him, she faces an uphill battle convincing her peers that he’s worth the risk, all while hiding the fact that he may be her son.
It’s Saturday night and you need something to watch. Never fear, Hidden Netflix Gems is a new weekly feature designed to help you decide just what it should be, and all without having to scroll through endless pages of crap or even leave the house. Each choice will be available for streaming on Netflix Instant, and the link below will take you to its page on the site. Look for a new suggestion here every Saturday.
Everyone who’s kept up with Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim comedy block over the past few years has heard of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the masterminds behind “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” And everyone who’s watched the show knows that after seeing it you’ll a) never be able to watch commercials the same way again, and b) notice how much influence these two fellas have had over what is now considered “mainstream” comedy.
“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” was a sketch show that ran from 2007 to 2010. It was freakin’ weird, to say the least, and its surrealistic, satirical humor mocking advertisements, public-access television, and everything in between has since spawned a spin-off, “Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule,” which stars John C. Reilly, and the full-length feature “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” (B$M).
Here’s the thing about Tim and Eric: you seriously don’t understand what I mean when I say “weird” until you’ve seen their work for yourself. Their brand of humor takes some getting used to, and there’s a reason each episode of the show only ran for 11 minutes. I’m about to wow you with a brand new saying, but sometimes, less is more. As a result, I’m somewhat skeptical of recommending “B$M” as your first dip into the T+E pool. You really should get your feet wet first with sketches like “Griddleman,” “Prices,” “Free House for You, Jim,” Tairy Greene’s ActingSeminars for Children, and some of Brule’sRules, and maybe even watch a few full episodes of the show (there are always a couple streaming on the Adult Swim website) before committing yourself to 94 minutes of this stuff. That said, there’s a reason Tim and Eric were the best kept secret in American comedy for so long. And a lot of the best-known names in the genre, guys like Ben Stiller, Paul Rudd, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and, Zach Galifianakis, made appearances on the show (the last three went on to star in the movie). The full list of cameos is certainly jarring, you might look at it and wonder how the hell you’d never heard of a show with that many big names before.
Tim and Eric are hilarious, but certainly not for everyone, and their humor is almost unexplainable until you experience it firsthand. If you watch a few sketches and find yourself enjoying them, then check out the trailer for the “Billion Dollar Movie.” But their stuff is often hate it or love it, so don’t say I didn’t warn you if 30 minutes in you feel like you’re watching the worst film ever made. The thing is, anti-humor is part of the shtick. Tim and Eric’s work (but the film especially) is meant to provoke a strong reaction one way or the other. They were actually trying to repulse just as many people as they entertained. And in that, they’ve inarguably succeeded. Just look at the Netflix user reviews, they’re nearly all five stars or one, with very little in between.
“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” was released earlier this year through on-demand TV and web services—which I believe is the future of movies, why pay $10 each to sit in an uncomfortable theater when you can pool the money together without leaving the couch? But that’s a story for a different day. Anyway, I’ll give you the synopsis, but it’s really irrelevant. The fact that the guys could even string together a semi-coherent plot line to go along with their “jokes” is nothing short of amazing. What you need to know is this: It’s Tim and Eric. It’s a movie. Great job!
Tim and Eric are given a billion dollars to make a movie, but squander every dime… and the sinister Schlaaang corporation is pissed. With their lives at stake, the guys skip town in search of a way to pay the money back. When they happen upon a chance to rehabilitate a bankrupt mall full of vagrants, bizarre stores and a man-eating wolf that stalks the food court, they see dollar signs-a billion of them.