Accepted Reviews

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Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ November 23, 2014
National Lampoon's Animal House has a lot to answer for. Ever since John Landis' comedy became one of the biggest hits of the late-1970s, we have had to live with a steady trickle of second-rate comedies about high school or college students. While the level of edginess or rauchiness has greatly varied from film to film, the vast majority lack even the slightest degree of subtext, which is ultimately what made Landis' work distinctive and subversive.

In the post-American Pie landscape, this trend has further mutated, with all the retrograde sexual attitudes of the 1970s and 1980s coming back into plain sight under the misplaced notion that they are ironically funny or - heaven forbid - empowering. But for all the chauvinistic unpleasantness of Superbad, or any Judd Apatow film for that matter, they are at least memorably offensive. Accepted, on the other hand, is a largely forgetable film which isn't that funny and doesn't try hard enough.

When it comes to judging any film which is branded edgy or dangerous, there is a basic rule of thumb. The rule is that a film's actual amount of edge, danger, shock value etc. is inversally proportional to the number of times its creators or commentators claim that it is any of these things. If you constantly have to tell people that a film is scary, or shocking, or funny, it's increasingly unlikely that it can be any of these things. Quality speaks for itself, rather than needing every journalist and promoter in the land to shout about it.

This culture of the lady protesting too much, to borrow a term from Shakespeare, is a consequence of a film industry obsessively driven by marketing and strict adherence to convention. Every time a film comes out whose plot involves a fair amount of sex, it has to be presented as the rauchiest thing ever made, even if it clearly isn't. Just as Zac and Miri Make a Porno is actually very tame (at least by the standards of Boogie Nights or John Waters films), so Accepted is not a new Animal House or American Pie. Even by the low standards of so many of the films these two inspired, it's still very tame indeed.

To give the film some credit, there is a nice little idea at the heart of its attempts to be raunchy and broad. In its quieter moments, particularly towards its conclusion, Accepted does touch on how educational institutions often overlook potential talent on the grounds of tradition and social expectations. The film doesn't touch on this anything like as much as it could: it's much more Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj than Dead Poet's Society, or even Step Up. But equally it pays more than lip service to the notion, and that gives it some semblance of brains, if not heart.

In his seminal book On Liberty, the philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote: "Persons of genius are... more individual than any other people - less capable, consequently, of fitting themselves, without hurtful compression, into any of the small number of moulds which society provides in order to save its members the trouble of forming their own character." You would have a hard time defining any of our leading characters here as geniuses, but the fact remains that they have potential which is being overlooked or squandered by the narrow-mindedness of the American education system. Certainly it's hard to argue that America would be better off with all of its students ending up like Hoyt Ambrose.

If you were feeling equally charitable, you could view Accepted as a successor to the anti-establishment films of the 1960s. Even if we take the rambling, foul-mouthed, elderly teacher out of the equation, the film has a somewhat beatnik quality to it, populated as it is by people whose creativity thrives when not constrained by the established ways of doing things. If you're looking for a mid-noughties equivalent of Howl or Kill Your Darlings, you definitely won't find it, but this merest hint of subtext is there for those who want to see it.

The film also deserves credit for giving us a young male protagonist who isn't a completely unlikeable, unpleasant slacker. In Superbad we hated the characters, finding them so gormless or obnoxious that it was hard to excuse, let alone like, what they were doing. Bartleby's not exactly as likeable as Flounder in Animal House (or anyone else in Animal House, for that matter), but he is at least well-intentioned as a character. His need to lie to his parents to make them proud is certainly one trait with which many can empathise.

But despite all these plus points, the fact remains that, in the end, Accepted is still a pretty weak film. And its biggest weakness of all, ironically, is that it feels uncomfortable going as far as it needs to in order to justify either its reputation or its premise. If you are setting up a story about a school in which everyone breaks the rules, you can't pull any punches with the amount of carnage or excess you're prepared to show. You can't promise us Alice Cooper's 'School's Out' and then give us a tea party.

The reasons for this, to bring us almost full circle, lie in the marketing. Animal House had a raw energy and a spirit to it because it came from the same youth it was depicting; it was made by people who, at the time, didn't really know what they were doing. Accepted, on the other hand, is the product of a committee of middle-aged men, who want the film to be edgy enough to make a good trailer, but not so outrageous that it will alienate its core audience. It's a bit like giving someone a brilliant, bright red Ferrari and then telling them that they can only drive it when it's foggy, so as not to hurt the feelings of other drivers.

Steve Pink is a director who, at least for the present, plays by the rules of the Hollywood machine. His earlier work as a writer, such as Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity, suggested someone who could bring something new to well-worn stories. But both here and on Hot Tub Time Machine, he has taken the executive's shilling and gone down the tried-and-tested route. While he's not unspeakably poor as a director, there's nothing particularly memorable or energetic about any of his compositions. Even though it's shot by Matthew F. Leonetti, who also shot Fast Times at Ridgmont High, it looks and feels like any other meat-and-potatoes teen comedy.

There are numerous points in its running time at which Accepted could and should have pushed things a little further, or gone for something that was a little more risqué. Teenage comedies of this kind don't always have to go down the Porky's route of just being gross or sexist; in fact, the film's ideas about the education system could have been a starting point to challenge such conventions. But even the biggest set-pieces involving destruction of property or swearing feel reined in, and as a result none of them are memorable.

A further problem with Accepted is its characters. Although our lead is relatively likeable (at least by the standards of similar films), none of the characters are distinctive enough to leave any impression after the film has finished. Some of the older actors are fleetingly memorable for being over-the-top, such as Bartleby's dad or Richard van Horne (Dr Chilton from The Silence of the Lambs). But the young cast, the people for whom we are meant to be rooting, are far too bland.

Jonah Hill's performance is a classic case in point. Hill's career has had its hits and misses, but his worst films (Superbad, The Sitter, Evan Almighty) have always been memorably bad. Here, on the other hand, he has very little to play with, neither excelling nor failing badly enough to make us watch him on a perverse level. His character generally fulfils the Flouder role from Animal House, being the socially awkward outcast who will never be properly accepted for who he is. But even with the girly scream and the jokes about his "weiner" (obvious but funny), he eventually blends into the background along with everyone else.

Accepted is a deeply forgettable film which demonstrates the problems with Hollywood's conservative approach to filmmaking. Had Steve Pink or any other director been given a longer leash, it could have been memorably outrageous, for better or worse. But as hard as it tries, it's still too tame and too boring to even risk challenging American Pie. As with so many modern Hollywood comedies, it's a slice of barely memorable disappointment which leaves a dull ache and then quickly fades.
Super Reviewer
June 4, 2012
Students rejected by authorized institutions of higher learning decide to start their own college in this Animal House cousin that pretends to question "legitimate" education, but like a slacker friend who discusses world politics while smoking all of yer stash really just wants to party. Charm carries the day here and Lewis Black plays my own personal Gandhi.
Super Reviewer
½ June 3, 2012
Accepted is a poorly constructed college comedy that tries too hard at being the next Animal House. The difference is, is that Animal House was actually funny, and memorable. This film isn't. The cast here are uninteresting, and though the film starts off with some potential, Accepted ultimately fails to deliver anything worth mentioning. This is a flawed film that just doesn't work. I thought that the film had potential, but it seems that the filmmakers didn't know how to deliver anything good. The film is just a caricature of every other college comedy; we've seen it all before, this one is just predictable with a wasted cast. This film could have been a lot better than it turned out. This is just a pointless comedy with gags that are strained, and in most cases unfunny. Accepted fails to delivers great laughs. Thus this film just ends up being an awful, tiresome comedy that doesn't try to make you laugh. This film simply doesn't work and is not worth your time. This is just a film that has far too much wasted potential. Accepted could have been a great college teen film, but instead ends up being a misfire. This film simply doesn't work, due to a tiresome, predictable formula and not so good acting. I really didn't enjoy this film, and I felt that a lot more effort could have been put into the film to try and create something good. I'll stick with Animal House as that is the definitive college comedy.
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2011
Stupid and not realistic.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
Quirky teen comedy. Funny and inventive. I quite liked it.
Super Reviewer
½ April 10, 2007
Pretty inconsistent in the quality of its humor, but when it's funny, it's downright hilarious. Justin Long is great as always, and the perfect pick for his role. I also loved the inclusion of Lewis Black in the cast. I have only seen his stand-ups prior to this, but as I came to discover, he's just as entertaining on the big screen as well. It appears he's been given a lot of freedom with the material, which gave the movie a real boost in energy and hilarity. If ever he gets his own feature film, I'm definitely renting it. Don't expect too much of this one though, because it's not exactly what you'd call an award-magnet. Some of the roles are badly written, and it's got many of the clichés and stereotypes that you'll find in other high school/college comedies. In any case, it's an enjoyable way to kill some time.
Super Reviewer
March 21, 2009
I dont know much, but i always say everyone knows atleast two things if they are able to walk out of their house and close the door behind them, and this movie will surely inspire people to do that incase they arent lready outside making a snowman. so anyway, i know two things.
one: Brett Favre really, really likes to retire from stuff.
two: if you come across a movie in a video store labeled as comedy and there are alot of people on the cover screaming at the camera for no apparent reason, you should realize its no comedy and then feel compelled to go make a snowman in the beautiful snow.
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2010
3 stars
Super Reviewer
½ August 3, 2010
A good laugh riot, with heart that is gained slowly and surely.
Super Reviewer
July 29, 2010
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2010
I thought accepted was an acceptable comedy for the genre, brining in just enough laughs to satisfy fans of the genre! I give some props to accepted!
Super Reviewer
March 5, 2008
Very funny college movie & it's way way better than Animal House for me. Jonah Hill is funny as always & Justin Long & Blake Lively have great performances as well!!!
Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2009
This movie is not very original or believable, but sue me, I enjoyed it. I really did. It's funny as hell, and it does touch upon real life issues, just from a satirical POV that, as I said, wasn't too original or believable and could have been tweaked. The dialogue is hilarious, and the performances by Jonah Hill and Lewis Black are both ridiculously hilarious and scene stealing. Not great, but not terrible either.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2009
Surprisingly whip-smart commentary on the soul-crushing bureaucracy known as academe. Blake Lively is pretty and has an awesome name.
Super Reviewer
½ September 18, 2007
In terms of plot, lets face it, its pretty basic. If you saw the trailer, you know the plot. But what makes this movie great are the one liners. So if you like quick wit and just really want to laugh this is a good movie to go see. Its not too gratuitous and over the top, and it doesn't push so hard to be funny. Some movies just try to hard, but the basic plot and classic one liners make this movie entertaining. If you just want to get out of the house and go laugh with your friends this is the perfect movie for you. Especially if you are about to go to college or are in college. I think that everyone can relate to this movie and you should see it if you want to be entertained.
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2007
Every decade we have a movie that change the way to see teenagers, for example in the 80's there was The Breakfast Club, in the 90's it was American Pie, now It was the turn of Accepted, a enjoyable film that mocks of teenagers with very funny situations. A decent cast of young actors but with very good acting. In conclusion, this movie is so ridiculous that it makes it funny and entertaining.
Super Reviewer
½ March 5, 2007
It was pretty good.
Super Reviewer
½ March 2, 2007
I really enjoyed this one. I thought it would be really good but then it didn't stay in the theaters long so I lowered my expectations and that probably helped. "Do you have hobo stab insurance?"
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2007
I've been waiting for another movie that actually made me laugh, with out too much complete stupidness, and this movie did it. It's a great plot, awesome actors, and one of the best movies I seen in 2006.
Super Reviewer
½ June 24, 2007
A good and extremely funny fil, however, i felt it moved a bit too fast! could have beefed it out abit!
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