Monday 7 August 2017

Movie Review: Accepted (2006)

A high school comedy, Accepted has one bright idea but then fails to do anything of substance with a story of oddballs launching their own place of higher learning.

In suburban Ohio, Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) graduates from high school, fails to get accepted into any college, and equally fails to get noticed by beautiful classmate Monica (Blake Lively). Wilting under the pressure of his disappointed parents, Bartleby teams up with fellow misfits, including brainy Rory (Maria Thayer) and athletic "Hands" (Columbus Short), and creates an acceptance letter from the fake South Harmon Institute of Technology. Bartleby's best friend Sherman (Jonah Hill), who does have an acceptance to the real Harmon College, helps out by creating a functional website for the fake Institute.

Using $10,000 from his parents Bartleby and his friends leases and refurbishes an abandoned mental hospital. Soon they are flooded with underperforming students, as Sherman had programmed the website to issue one-click acceptances. While Sherman struggles with demeaning fraternity initiating rights, Bartleby is faced with the challenge of actually creating a functional college, winning Monica's heart, and fending off the evil ambitions of Harmon College's Dean Richard Van Horne (Anthony Heald).

A one-joke teen comedy, on a few occasions Accepted threatens to create a few laughs. But the film, mechanically directed by Steve Pink and featuring an obnoxious soundtrack of obvious rock tracks, quickly exhausts its premise and spends most of its 92 minutes killing time until a tired climactic speech exalting the virtues of individuality, nonconformity and yes, acceptance.

The talent in front of the camera almost makes the experience watchable. Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Blake Lively and the bright Maria Thayer are committed enough to deserve better material, but they cannot save Accepted from sinking in its sea of bland predictability.

Their characters are borrowed from ancient and much better movies including Animal House and all its imitators. After creating the clever-but-lazy Bartleby and his brainstorm of inventing his own college, the team of three writers forgets to insert anything resembling actual laughs or original content. The Institute's abbreviation appears to be their proudest achievement. The result is a tired movie that sits by the pool, ogles girls in bikinis, attends parties and waits for the end credits.

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