Any doubts about whether the Fey character is motivated by a strong sense of moral duty or ethics is shattered later in the film: Without telling anyone about her blatant conflict of interest, she starts cheerleading for Jeremiah with the admissions committee, telling her colleagues to overlook his flaws because he’s simply a different kind of learner who would be an asset to Princeton. But if Jeremiah is uninterested in classrooms and tests, he wouldn’t be a good fit for Princeton in the first place. Portia is simply doing what all globally minded, caring, progressive citizens do when it comes to their kid getting into a prestigious school: trampling all ethical concerns in pursuit of the ultimate goal. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that if Jeremiah gets a place at Princeton, another, more-deserving kid whose mother isn’t pushing his application will not get that spot.

Admission, then, wants to be a cute comedy but it’s really pretty ugly. That’s a shame, because Fey is an appealing actress, and she showed on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock that she has a lot of imagination as a writer. It’s too bad she accepted the lead in this formulaic, witless exercise. The movie is so bad, even Sarah Palin is going to feel sorry for Tina.