Directed by Steve Pink. Starring Justin Long, Adam Herschman, Jonah Hill, Lewis Black. (2006, PG-13, 92 min.)
REVIEWED By Brian Clark, Fri., Aug. 18, 2006
Accepted asserts that a college run by students with self-paced, self-taught classes might be better than the institutionalized, bureaucratic alternative. But who wants education advice from the creators of such a witless, uninspired excuse for a college comedy? Said school, dubbed the South Harmon Institute of Technology (uh oh, look what the acronym spells!), is the brainchild of Bartleby Gaines (played by Long, from those PC vs. Mac commercials), a slacker who received rejection from every college to which he applied. After his parents essentially tell him, "We don't love you unless you get into college," he creates a fake acceptance letter from a fake college in hopes of winning their affection. But then he realizes he needs a fake campus, too, as his parents need to drop him off somewhere. No worries, though. Creating a college is really easy: Make a Web site; rent out an abandoned, decrepit psychiatric ward; then get a few friends together with some spit and elbow grease, and presto! Gaines' computer-whiz buddy makes a miscalculation though: In order to give the Web site legitimacy, he adds a fully functional applications system. So, just as Gaines and his buddies are about to relax at their makeshift college, a slew of students shows up ready for class, tuition checks in hand. Thus begins Gaines' college-reformation movement, in which he encourages the students to make up their own classes, then take them. It works like a charm. Suddenly, students who thought they were destined for failure begin to blossom creatively while learning valuable skills like BMX jumping and woodcarving. But the evil dean of the real Harmon College wants to shut them down, not just for copyright infringement but also because he hates creativity, learning, and, probably, most students. The latter sentiment isn't hard to empathize with. Long comes off as smug and annoying, and his buddies just came off some stereotype assembly line. Aside from a few parts where people run into things, the entire film rests on these witless characters to provide the humor. There's a bit of relief when Lewis Black steps in as an embittered ex-professor, but even his rants feel forced in the context of the film. Perhaps the lowest point comes when Long jumps onstage during a party and delivers an embarrassing rendition of "Blitzkrieg Bop." It's an obvious nod to Rock 'n' Roll High School that mostly serves as a grim reminder of how far comedies about the education system have fallen.