Accepted review by Mike Long

I'm not sure if legislation truly exists or not, but there seems to be a law that a crazy college comedy film must be made every few years. As far as I can tell, this began with Animal House in 1978. The trend then continued through the 80s with Revenge of the Nerds (the 80s were a lean time for the college film, as there were many more high-school movies during that time). The 1990s saw the underrated PCU and there was a resurgence in the genre in 2002 with Van Wilder and Slackers. And now, in 2006, we get Accepted, a movie which harkens back to many of the above mentioned films...and offers nothing new.

Accepted tells the story of Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long), a life-long slacker and smart-ass. Bartleby is nearing the end of his senior year in high school and just like his best friend, Sherman (Jonah Hill) (who will be attending the prestigious Harmon College), he is looking forward to attending college. Unfortunately, Bartleby didn't get accepted to any of the colleges to which he applied. Knowing that this information will crush his parents, Bartleby decides to invent a college called South Harmon Institute of Technology, and sends a fake acceptance letter to himself. To enhance the realism, Bartleby has Sherman invent a website for the fictitious school. Bartleby's plan works, as his parents are very excited about his college news.

But, in order to keep the ruse alive, Bartleby must take the plan to the next level. With the help of Sherman and their friends, Hands (Columbus Short), Rory (Maria Thayer), and Glen (Adam Herschman), Bartleby converts an old mental institution into a the South Harmon Institute of Technology. Once he has shown the school to his parents and completely fooled them, Bartleby assumes that he is in the clear. That is, until 100 people who visited the South Harmon Institute of Technology and received (automatically generated) acceptance letters arrive at the fake school. Now, Bartleby and the gang, along with Shermans Uncle Ben (Lewis Black), a disgruntled former teacher, must turn their clever dodge into a real college!

Once Bartleby and his gang are able to get South Harmon Institute of Technology (or S.H.I.T.) up and running, they invent a curriculum that tells the students that they can basically do whatever they want to. I found this to be very ironic, because Accepted struck me as a film which couldnt decide what it wanted to do. It introduces many ideas and characters, and starts down many paths, but none of the conclusions are very satisfying.

On the one hand, Accepted wants to be somewhat like Real Genius or Van Wilder, as the main character is a street-wise slacker who is able to get others to go along with his crazy schemes. (Although, no one in this film has the geeky smarts offered in Real Genius.) But, the movie also wants to be an us vs. them party film ala Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds, as South Harmon is offered up as the school where the societal rejects can go and feel at home. In a similar vein, the students at South Harmon like to party and there is plenty of drinking and scantily-clad women to be had. On top of all of this, youve got the Lewis Black character who appears to be playing Lewis Black, as he rants about the problems with society.

If all of this sounds like a mish-mash, it is and Accepted never truly gels. The movie fights hard to stay within its PG-13 boundaries (to the point that one of Lewis Blacks F-bombs is bleeped) and this sorely limits the amount of extreme partying that can be displayed on-screen. (This must have always been the plan, or else we would have been treated to an unrated DVD.) The premise is very tough to swallow -- all of these people would suddenly show up at a school that they found on the Internet? The idea of conning people with a fake college is intriguing, but by the end, the movie has devolved into an Animal House clone, right down to the us vs. them court room scene.

Accepted isnt all bad. Justin Long doesnt necessarily have the chops to carry the film, but he is good in the role and has some funny moments. (But he needs to cut down on the unnecessary physical comedy.) Unfortunately, the supporting characters are fairly weak, save for Glen (who acts as if hes in another movie) and Uncle Ben (who, again, is just Lewis Black). If youve never seen any other wacky college film, then you may find some laughs in Accepted, otherwise, this one is strictly a rental.

Accepted goes co-ed on DVD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. (From the studio that brought you American Pie the DVD box proclaims.) The film has come to DVD in two separate releases, one full-frame and the other widescreen. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Given that Accepted was in theaters just 3 months ago, it shouldnt be all that surprising to note that the transfer looks pretty good. The image is sharp and clear, showing essentially no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are very bold and natural looking and the image is never too dark. I did notice some minor shimmering and video noise at times, but otherwise the video is solid. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and noticeable. The surround sound effects come into play during the many crowd scenes and when the group is first exploring the old institution. Bass response is acceptable, but the in-movie music does give the sub a chance to show off.

The Accepted DVD offers a disappointing array of extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY featuring director Steve Pink and actors Justin Long, Lewis Black, Jonah Hill, and Adam Herschman. This is a disorienting commentary as all of the participants try to talk at once throughout, save for Black, who chimes in with an insult every now and then. The speakers all try to be funny instead of actually commenting on the movie. The DVD contains 14 DELETED SCENES, which run about 13 minutes (all in one continuous reel). There are some interesting moments here, but there are no revelations or new plotlines. Adams Accepted Chronicles (11 minutes) is a behind-the-scenes look at actor Adam Herschmans experience on the film. The events are clearly staged and none of this is funny. Reject Rejection: The Making of Accepted (10 minutes) contains lots of behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the cast and crew, as it explores the cast, characters, director, and the involvement of Lewis Black. We get an odd mixture of film clips and behind-the-scenes footage in Self-guided Campus Tour, which allows the viewer to explore five areas from the film. The two MUSIC VIDEOS, Hangin on the Half Pipe and Keepin Your Head Up, are essentially taken directly from the movie. The extras are finished off by a GAG REEL (8 minutes), which is presented by Volkswagen. What?


5 out of 10 Jackasses

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