Universal // 2006 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 28th, 2006
The kid from the Mac commercials headlines his own goofball college movie in this attempt-at-a-unique-concept. Is Accepted a diaper dandy or a bad "Apple"?
Bartleby "B" Gaines (Justin Long) is an underachiever who finds his mediocre ways catching up to him when no college accepts him in their freshman ranks. Pressured by an overbearing family, he concocts a scheme with his friends to create a fake college that he can sell to his parents. Thus South Harmon Institute of Technology is born.
As the ruse progresses, B and his friends Schrader (Jonah Hill), Rory (Maria Thayer, Strangers With Candy) and Hands (Columbus Short) are forced to make their deceptions much more elaborate. This includes leasing an abandoned mental asylum, launching a web page and hiring a dean (Lewis Black).
Unfortunately, the web page attracts a slew of fellow losers, all thrilled to be accepted to college and unaware of the fakeness of the institution. Feeling connected to his kindred spirits, B throws common sense out the window and implements a self-teaching curriculum, where the students create and teach their own classes.
It's all bikinis and dirt bikes and keg parties until the jackass dean at neighboring Harmon College (universal jackass character actor Anthony Heald) wants South Harmon steamrolled to make way for his own college's expansion. Will our lovable batch of rejects fight the power and revolutionize the American educational system as we know it?
Accepted boasts the sheen of a unique premise that eventually collapses under the weight of its own farfetchedness and joke misfires. I'm all for injecting some kind of different spin into the much-sapped genre of "raucous college comedy," but Accepted can't handle the pressure and ultimately washes out.
The main culprit for the film's underperformance is the dearth of laughs. The movie starts out solid, populated by some decent gags delivered by its animated lead (Long), but once the actual gimmick of the film unfolds, the laugh ratio plummets. There are some grand attempts made, notably by Lewis Black, whose angry-at-the-world-shtick suffers from poor screenwriting. And there's an onslaught of sophomoric sight gags, like dudes ogling sunbathing girls and dirt bikes flying into swimming pools and the token fat kid dressed up as a hot dog pleading with people to ask him about his wiener. Long's character thankfully maintains some wit and his delivery is good, but his efforts aren't enough to resuscitate the flagging comedy. And that S.H.I.T. acronym gag is milked relentlessly throughout the runtime.
Worse, the writers don't seem interested in capitalizing on the premise they labored long and hard to manufacture. Once the college opens, not much happens: guys drink beer, scantily-clad girls go swimming and, er, that's about it. Oh wait, there is the lovable stoner kid who develops a love for cooking and blows up the kitchen!
This is made to seem even emptier at the big ending of the film, where our slackers go head-to-head with the stuck-up dean and his cadre of loyal bleached blonde frat boys in an accreditation showdown. There, B opens up with the big speech, a stirring defense of alternative education and self-learning and assorted anti-elitist hokum. There's cheering. There's applause. There's sweeping music. There's validation from the disappointed father. It's all supposed to be inspiring, like the ending in Summer School, but it just came across as clichéd and corny. And what was the "program" we were supposed to be vigorously rooting for? A bunch of losers playing Ultimate Frisbee for course credit?!?
In the end, Accepted wanted to do something different, but the result is yet another unfunny, half-baked college comedy, plagued by stereotypes and genre mainstays and a mediocre script. Put this one on academic probation.
Universal gets a B+ for a solid DVD presentation: a clean 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation and an effective 5.1 Dolby Digital mix; deleted scenes; a gag reel; commentary with director Steve Pink and the cast; "Reject Rejection: The Making of Accepted," a fawning promo piece; "Adam's Accepted Chronicles" video diaries; and some music videos
I'm not feeling it. Accepted has a few laughs, but the film gets mired in a plot that goes nowhere and a string of tired, laugh-free status quo shenanigans.
See me after class.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Cast and Director Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* "Adam's Accepted Chronicles"
* Music Videos