Accepted (2006)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Like its characters who aren't able to meet their potential, Accepted's inconsistent and ridiculous plot gets annoying, despite a few laughs.

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Misfit teenagers who can't get into college instead create one of their own in this youth-oriented comedy. Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) is a high school senior who's a nice guy and reasonably bright. However, his academic history is none too impressive, and as graduation comes and goes he's yet to find a college willing to admit him. Bartleby's parents are unhappy about this turn of events, and when he's turned down by his final "safety" school, Bartleby hatches a desperate scheme -- using his computer, he creates a website and letterhead for a non-existent college, South Harmon Institute of Technology, and tells his parents he'll he matriculating there come September. As it happens, several of Bartleby's friends -- Glen (Adam Herschman), Rory (Maria Thayer), Hands (Columbus Short), and Schrader (Jonah Hill) -- are in the same predicament, and soon they're also part of the new class at South Harmon. Word spreads like wildfire about South Harmon via the internet, and soon hundreds of prospective students are lined up waiting to sign up for its nonexistent classes. Bartleby and his pals commandeer a condemned mental hospital to serve as their campus, persuade Bartleby's mildly deranged Uncle Ben (Lewis Black) to serve as their dean, and soon they're running what looks like a genuine alternative educational facility, at least from a distance. But how long can the kids keep up the scam before their parents get wise...not to mention the officials governing institutions of higher education? Accepted was the first feature film from screenwriter-turned-director Steve Pink.
Rating:
PG-13 (for language, sexual material and drug content)
Genre:
Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Box Office:
$36,300,285.00
Runtime:
Studio:

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Cast

Blake Lively
as Monica
Justin Long
as Bartleby Gaines
Lewis Black
as Uncle Ben
Jonah Hill
as Sherman Schrader
Mark Derwin
as Jack Gaines
Anthony Heald
as Dean Van Horne
Travis Van Winkle
as Hoyt Ambrose
Jason Jones
as Pro Skater/BMX Rider
Jeremy Howard
as Freaky Student
Scott Adsit
as Drop-Off Dad
Hannah Marks
as Lizzie Gaines
Ray Santiago
as Boy Going to Princeton
Ann Cusack
as Diane Gaines
Kellan Lutz
as Dwayne
Skyler Stone
as S. H. Student in Hallway No. 2
Kurtis Colamonico
as Pro Skater/BMX Rider
Chantelle Tibbs
as Confused Kid
Margaret Travolta
as Academic Counselor
Jim O'Heir
as Mr. Schrader
Jay Harik
as Family Friend
Debbon Ayer
as Shoe Store Mother
Tim Bagley
as Vice Principal Matthews
Ben Snowden
as Pro Skater/BMX Rider
Greg Lutzka
as Pro Skater/BMX Rider
Ned Schmidtke
as Board Chairman
Carla Jimenez
as Shoe Store Manager
Chad Fernandez
as Pro Skater/BMX Rider
Richard Thorne
as Pro Skater/BMX Rider
Meredith Giangrande
as Glen's Party Girl No. 1
Sam Horrigan
as Mike Welsh
Ross Patterson
as Mike McNaughton
Artie Baxter
as Mike Chambers
Darcy Shean
as Mrs. Schrader
Lisa Gleave
as Kiki's Best Friend No. 1
Richard Brown
as Fake ID Kid
Alejandra Gutierrez
as Kiki's Best Friend No. 2
Brian Powell
as Economics Teacher
Christina Diaz
as S.H. Testimonial Student
Steven E. Little
as Desk Clerk
Robin Lord Taylor
as Abernathy
Laurie Meghan Phelps
as Fake ID Kid
Mike Crum
as Pro Skater/BMX Rider
Jimmy Leung
as S.H. Student in Hallway
Joe Hursley
as Maurice
Christian Long
as Sandwich Mascot
York Fryer
as S.H. Student in Hallway
Shaun Reyes
as Random S. H. Student
Matt Noble
as Big Larry
Mathew Vigil
as Shoe Store Boy
Mike Daily
as Stressed-out Student No. 1
Jeff Duby
as Stressed-out Student No. 2
Lindy Loundagin
as Drop-Off Mom
Ethan Hova
as Male Graduate
Paraic McGann
as BKE Pledge With Jacket
Arthur Leo
as ESL Student
Criscilla Crossland
as Go Go Dancer No. 1
Larke Hasstedt
as Go Go Dancer No. 2
Holly Fielding
as Autograph Student
Kate French
as Glen's Party Girl No. 2
Zoe Di Stefano
as S.H. Testimonial Student
David Carmon
as S.H. Testimonial Student
Armen Weitzman
as S.H. Testimonial Student
Christopher Khai
as S.H. Testimonial Student
Stephanie St. Hilaire
as S.H. Testimonial Student
Shameka Banks
as S.H. Testimonial Student
Nicholas Garren
as S.H. Testimonial Student
Louie Heredia
as S.H. Testimonial Student
Matthew St. Clair
as Fake ID Kid
Jamie Leffler
as Fake ID Kid
Nina Nam
as Fake ID Kid
Wendy Waller
as Fake ID Kid
Ronnie Lewis Jr.
as Fake ID Kid
Matthew Ching
as Fake ID Kid
Miylika Davis
as Fake ID Kid
Portis Hershey
as Fake ID Kid
Jaime Seibert
as A Ringer
Joseph Stiteler
as A Ringer
Mathias Ringstrom
as Pro Skater/BMX Rider
Jim Leung
as S. H. Student in Hallway No. 3
Jack Gaines
as Derwin
Yorke Fryer
as S. H. Student in Hallway No. 1
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Critic Reviews for Accepted

All Critics (112) | Top Critics (32)

Even the characters in the movie are saying at the beginning, 'This is crazy. This will never work.' And I'm like, you know what? You're right. It never will. Not for one second. Even in a whacky comedy like this.

August 21, 2006
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

Here's the final mystery about Accepted: Why title a movie that so readily invites the headline Rejected as a critical riposte?

Full Review… | August 18, 2006
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Even though it outright plagiarizes many plot points and gags of that generational classic, Accepted can't make the leap from contrived to genuine comedy.

Full Review… | August 18, 2006
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Go right ahead and skip this one at the Cineplex. You've got my word: It won't be on the final.

Full Review… | August 18, 2006
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

If you can lighten up for an hour and a half, the film delivers one good laugh after another.

Full Review… | August 18, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Too bad what begins as a cheerfully irreverent comedy in the tradition of Animal House gets all pious when it slams fraternity culture at neighboring Harmon College.

August 18, 2006
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Accepted

½

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.

Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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