Starring Justin Long, Blake Lively, Anthony Heald, Lewis Black, Jonah Hill, Mark Derwin, Adam Herschman, Columbus Short, Maria Thayer, Ann Cusack, Hannah Marks, Robin Taylor, Diora Baird and Travis Van Winkle.
Screenplay by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Mark Perez.
Directed by Steve Pink.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 93 minutes. Rated PG-13.
On one of its posters, Accepted refers to itself as a National Lampoon’s Animal House for a new generation. This is of course ridiculous, the movie is rated PG-13 so it is obviously pulling punches that its inspiration absolutely refused to do. Actually, Accepted is much more like National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, a kind of clever, kind of stupid look at a bunch of smug losers who wreak mild havoc on an institute of higher learning.
The main character is saddled with the preposterous, Melville-referencing name of Bartleby Gaines. The role is played with a good amount of charm if just a tiny bit too much smart-ass swagger by Justin Long, formerly a regular of the quirky Tom Cavanaugh TV series Ed, currently best known for his clever series of Mac computer ads.
Here he is a slightly nerdy ne’er-do-well student who is not accepted to any of the colleges which he applied to. When his parents threaten to force him to get a job, he creates a fake college acceptence to the fictional South Harmon Institute of Technology (work out the initials to get an idea of the level of humor in the movie).
A few friends learn about the scam and when they don’t get into any schools either, they join in on the scam. At first is seems like a cool idea, giving him an excuse to hang out and play video games, but due to his father’s suspicions he has to make the lie more and more elaborate; creating a working web site, renting and renovating an old mental hospital and hiring a slightly burnt-out former educator-turned-fast-food-salesperson as dean. Suddenly applications and tuition checks start pouring in and the group must find their own unorthodox curriculum.
Bartleby (who is mercifully called simply B by most who know him) is in love with Monica, the gorgeous girl next store from high school who always saw him as just a friend and dates the handsome big man on campus. Blake Lively is gorgeous and charming in the role, but the supportive hot-girl-whose-eyes-are-finally-opened-to-the-nerdy-guy role is a huge step down from her amazing, multi-layered work as the depressive, self-destructive soccer star in last year’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Just because she has the looks and talent to play the eye-candy role effortlessly doesn’t mean that she should have — nor will it likely pull her career in the direction she has the talent and charisma to go.
Of course, these films would not be complete without a bad guy and Anthony Heald of Boston Public and The Silence of the Lambs plays the mean dean of the neighboring University in true Dean Wormer fashion (this is the one place where they are spot on to Animal House.)
Accepted is not exactly a good or interesting film, but if you’re willing to shut off your mind and agree to buy into its sort of silly plotline, there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half. (11/06)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 19, 2006.