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A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption. Based on a novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz.


Admission contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The book is much more about Portia discovering she's unhappy with her life and grappling with that (or not, for a good chunk of it), and in fact Jeremiah possibly being her son doesn't even come up until the very end, whereas the movie foregrounds that a lot more.
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  • Adorkable: This is a Tina Fey movie, after all.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Jeremiah's is never stated but it caused him a lot of problems in school before going to John's academy.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Portia sacrifices her job to get Jeremiah into Princeton; Jeremiah isn't actually Portia's son; Portia's real son declines to meet her for now.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: After learning that Jeremiah isn't her son, Portia calls her mother out for (basically) having a one night stand just to have a baby and not learning the father's name. Mom reveals that Portia was an accident and the "don't need no man" story was just a brave front; likewise Portia never told her mom about being pregnant.
  • I Am Not My Father: John doesn't want to be a boring conservative like his parents; John's son Nelson doesn't want to be running around the world like his father, which in turn causes Nelson to prefer boring, conservative things like his grandparents (well, grandmother).
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  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Nelson (he's actually afraid he's "just normal" compared to the prodigy Jeremiah); possibly Portia, as Nelson likes her because "she's boring".
  • I Just Want to Be Special: John and Portia's mothers wish their kids felt like this, or in John's case the sort of "special" they'd approve of.
  • Irony (situational): Two for Portia: When she meets the alternative-school kids they grill her on why they even need to attend an expensive school like Princeton in order to "change the world" and she's almost at a loss for words she's able to answer that things like law and biology degrees are necessary to start changing the world; the film ends with her taking a nerve-wracking interview to see if she's eligible to meet her son, which she "fails" when he declines to meet her.
    John: So, we're on the wait list.
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  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: If Jeremiah had a cleaner copy of his birth certificate (or told John he had already met his real birth mother) John wouldn't have mistaken a 1 for an 11 and found Portia, who wouldn't have sacrificed her job or hooked her mom up with the philosophy prof to get his recommendation, and eventually find the nerve to connect with her real son.
  • Lighter and Softer: The book's humor is dark and absurd, when there is humor; the movie is a Tina Fey comedy.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Triply backfires: Jeremiah isn't Portia's son, he's angry at her for "lying" to him since they met, and Portia's real son doesn't want to meet her.
  • Parental Issues: Portia's mom is fairly annoyed that her daughter didn't become exceptional and states that if she did a job like Portia's for so long she'd kill herself. She also prefers to be called by her first name and didn't think a little thing like a mastectomy was important enough to call her daughter about.
  • Revenge: One of the Princeton applicants wants to become a judge, try her mother's murderer, and hopefully fry him. This unnerves the dean but one person's "revenge fantasy" is another's "drive and passion"!
  • Running Gag: Portia continuously running into Mark & Helen at inopportune times.
  • Sex for Solace: Portia with John right after she lost her job.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Jeremiah, the alternative school kid who turns out not to be her son. Inverted with Nelson, who you'd think would be insufferable based on his scenes in the trailers but turns out to be a pretty mellow kid.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Portia's mom. In order: she doesn't feed her dogs because "they're too dependent on humans" and ought to be hunters; she was proud when Portia resigned her position as class president to protest to school regulations on girls' sports; she had a one-night stand on a train because she wanted a child but not a relationship which turns out to be a lie she told herself after accidentally getting pregnant.
  • The Un-Reveal: In the book, Jeremiah's parentage is never confirmed one way or another.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Jeremiah when he figures out that Portia thought that he was her son being the reason she was so interested in him. Which, of course, isn't the case.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Portia's long-term boyfriend Mark has been sleeping with a newly-hired Princeton professor, and in fact got her pregnant before the story even starts. (In the book this is also true of Portia herself, as she hooks up with John while still with Mark, but not in the movie.)
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