Accepted Review
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Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) wasn’t exactly the ideal high school student. He spent a little too much time slacking off and bending the rules—and not enough time studying. So when it comes time to apply for college, Bartleby sends out eight applications—and gets eight rejection letters. Crushed by the embarrassment of his rejection—and his parents’ shame—Bartleby creates an elaborate plot to make himself look a little less pathetic. He creates an official-looking acceptance letter from an official-looking (yet totally fake) college called the South Harmon Institute of Technology. Since he knows his parents will look into the school, he creates a professional-looking web site with the help of his friend, Sherman (Jonah Hill). Together with his other college-rejected friends—Hands (Columbus Short), Rory (Maria Thayer), and Glen (Adam Herschmann)—he leases out a run-down psychiatric hospital down the street from Harmon College, where Sherman’s been accepted. And when Bartleby’s parents demand more information, they even hire a dean (Lewis Black) to help with the plot.

Once he’s settled in at South Harmon, however, Bartleby discovers that his plot was a little too good, and the school’s web site had accepted hundreds of students—all of whom had been rejected by everyone else. Bartleby doesn’t have the heart to send them back to their disappointed parents—so he collects their tuition money and sets up a college where students create (and teach) their own classes and learn what they want to learn.

Unfortunately, the new college attracts unwanted attention from their “big sister school,” Harmon College—the dean of which is determined to tear down all the buildings in the area, including the one that houses the mysterious South Harmon Institute.

Though I try to keep an open mind about all the movies I see, I thought I knew what to expect from Accepted. I thought it would be an over-the-top ridiculous comedy, filled with the same old sophomoric jokes that used to be funny. I thought I’d be squirming in my seat after about a half hour, wishing I’d stayed home to watch Law & Order reruns instead.

But I’m strong enough to admit that I was wrong. Sure, Accepted is pretty ridiculous. And, at times, it tends to take itself and its “message” a little too seriously. But this latest college comedy is unexpectedly entertaining—and I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it. It’s not too outrageous or too over-the-top, and it doesn’t try, as I feared, to be another American Pie.

While it isn’t destined to become a classic—like its obvious inspiration, Animal HouseAccepted still has plenty of lovable-loser characters that will grow on you like a fungus. You may not want to love them, but you won’t be able to help it. Long may not be as laugh-out-loud hilarious as I’ve seen him before, but he does a great job as the school’s Ferris-Beuller-like leader, leaving the more outrageous humor to Hill and other supporting characters.

Take it for what it is—a silly college comedy—and you’ll find that Accepted is more than acceptable.

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