Bartleby (B.) Gaines (Justin Long) has graduated high school but seems to be the only guy who has not been accepted into any of the local or non-local schools. Already overshadowed by his teen-aged sister, his parents expectations are overwhelming and high. As a result Bartleby panics and recruits his intelligent friend Sherman (Jonah Hill) to help create a false college website of a college that “accepted” him to bide some time with his parents until he could find the courage to tell them the truth. His parents take the bait and even hand him a check for the first semesters tuition. Bartleby takes the money to fix up an abandoned mental institution and make it appear to be a school with the help of friends that have now jumped on the bandwagon. All seems to be going according to plan until it appears the website has drawn attention to other college rejects. They show up with their own checks and Bartleby must decide whether to carry on his facade or throw in the towel.
Accepted follows itself in the footsteps of Camp Nowhere (1994) where a kid tricks his parents and his friends parents into sending him to a camp that doesn’t exist. It was a fun and silly family film that required little substance to make the storyline plausible, not that the viewer cared anyway since it was just a kids film. Accepted wasn’t as successful in it’s attempt of trickery and believability. It’s biggest problem was the fact that all the students who attended South Harmon never questioned the lack of adult authority, save Uncle Ben (Lewis Black, The Daily Show), who was such a loose cannon it was obvious he belonged in the former mental institution. After a certain amount of time it would be possible that they all enjoyed their hiatus enough to not care for the repercussions, but initially there should have been more questioning, more proving on Bartleby’s part, and more explanation as to why he was in charge of this school of self discovery. Along with that it was difficult to stomach the complete dismissal of community colleges where everyone is accepted. This missed beat results in much rolling of the eyes.
Nonetheless the distraction of the plain good fun the film exudes along with the inspirational point of view that college isn’t for everyone, and while lightly it touches on the pressures kids have to go to college and the fact that most don’t even know what they are going for, other than the possible future of have a secure job and making decent money. Accepted encourages you to follow your dreams, even if your dream involves meditating and being a slacker all day. It’s rebelling against society’s mantra that college is the answer to everything and your hopes, wishes, and dreams shouldn’t even be considered, because they aren’t logical.
The character’s of the story aren’t incredibly stand out, but they are all very likable and supported by reasonable enough acting that the rest of the chaos that Accepted pushes onscreen works. No matter how ridiculous the scenario you are actually rooting for these pranksters to succeed. Jonah Hill in a particular, stole the scene each time he was onscreen. Prior to the hit of Superbad this film shows why he was an up and coming.
In general there wasn’t anything spectacular about Accepted, and it would be no surprise if it gets lost in time, but it’s worth a watch, a good chuckle, and a few hours of your time. Essentially, it was just a fun movie, done smart enough not to take itself too seriously but not try to be over the top funny either. Accepted receives Two out of Four stars.