Starring: Justin Long, Jonah Hill
Costarring: Blake Lively, Lewis Black
Times Watched: 2
Rotten Tomatoes / Metacritic: 37% / 47
Road To Ownership: I distinctly remember being at Blockbuster with two friends and buying some other previously viewed movies, and needing another one to get the best deal. My friends debated whether I should get this one or not, but I needed a fourth and I hadn’t seen it and I kind of wanted to, so yeah.
The Plot: The unfortunately named Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) is a bit of a Ferris Bueller-type schoolboy conman, but his street smarts and general averageness do not get him accepted into college. Shamed, he invents a fake ‘baby sister’ school to the prestigious ‘Harmon College’, where his best friend Schrader (Jonah Hill) has been accepted. His parents are so thrilled they hand over the $10K in tuition, which Bartleby uses to actually lease and renovate an old mental hospital to look like a university. Soon, several of Bartleby’s friends also plan to attend the faux school, which is followed by legions of others that have also been turned away from every other school. The South Harmon Institute of Technology (yes, S.H.I.T.) is an educational utopia, where kids learn about life, make up and teach their own classes, and mostly spend their days partying. Things aren’t all rosy though – Schrader’s frat-brothers-to-be are hell bent on taking down and exposing SHIT so their prestigious college can have a glorious entranceway built.
The Good & The Bad: There is a genre of movies out there that I like to call lazy comedies. It’s sort of how other animation studios release lazy computer animated films next to the brilliance of Pixar and the humour of Dreamworks. Accepted falls into the Lazy Comedy category, along with films like ‘Euro Trip’ or ‘Drillbit Taylor’. The casting isn’t quite as star-studded, the plot is okay with gaping holes, the characters are incredibly one-dimensional and contrived, the film is full of campy stereotypes, and the humour comes and goes in waves.
There are actually a ton of laughs in this film, the majority of which come from Jonah Hill’s nerdtastic BFF Schrader. Justin Long plays the (unbelievably old-looking for a college freshman) only guy with half a brain in the film, and goes from obnoxiously winking at the camera to having a few genuinely funny moments to being kind of creepy and self-serving. Blake Lively has a totally thankless and surprisingly deglammed role (you would NEVER see Serena Van Der Woodsen in a Target tank top), and Lewis Black, for all his over the top animated action, manages to deliver a few laughs when you get past his cartoon-ish demeanour. There’s also a pretty extensive ‘community’ cast of characters (including Twilight’s Kellan Lutz). However stereotypical they are, it’s nice to see the same minor characters get a few lines each to give the school the feeling of a living, breathing, student ecosystem.
The laughs alone don’t carry the film to greatness however. The huge gaping plot contrivances start to pile up as the film goes on, especially as you think to yourself, ‘Why isn’t anyone questioning anything? I guess there’s a reason none of you were accepted into college…I mean, really!’ Also the last quarter of the film abandons laughs and goes right for dramatic sentimentality, which is totally lost on the ragtag feeling in the rest of the movie.
Also, let me be the first to point out that this film is actually a remake of the 90’s classic ‘Camp Nowhere’, wherein a bunch of kids who all the face the same fate of heading to horrible summer camps decide to create a fake summer camp instead, fooling their parents and hiring a slightly random person to oversee the camp. Alternatively you could also argue it’s an expanded version of Old School, wherein the characters are fighting for an entire campus, not just a frat house.
Best Scene: Pretty much all the scenes with Jonah Hill are gold, but I particularly die laughing when the skeleton falls out of the ceiling when they're first investigating the school, and Schrader's response.
Worst Scene: Bartleby fighting for accreditation and his sappy, ridiculous speech. Just, no.
Best Character: Jonah Hill’s Schrader kind of carries the film, and does awesome here. Gotta love a guy who dons both a sperm and hot dog costume in the same film.
Worst Character: As annoyingly slapstick as Bartleby’s dad is, I have to say I really despise the character of ultimate dumbass-turned-chef Glenn. His “I’m so dumb” line readings drive me nuts because it’s like watching high school drama, and he’s NOT FUNNY. Ever. Although I do appreciate his t-shirt.
Soundtrack of Our Lives: Other than a couple of random covers, including a punk take on The Beatles ‘Eleanor Rigby’, the only slightly memorable moment was Green Day’s ‘Holiday’. The rest of the film is mostly generic music beds and the odd bit of pop punk.
If You Like This You’ll Like: Euro Trip, Road Trip, Old School…and Camp Nowhere.
FINAL GRADE: 2.5/5