Wait Until You Hear About the Mascot

by Alan Rapp on August 18, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Accepted
  • IMDB: link

accepted-posterIf you liked movies like Waiting…, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Risky Business, and Van Wilder, then you should give Accepted a shot.  It’s a little of all of those movies, and others, rolled into one.  But what makes it different is the humorous AND seriousness with which it discusses our educational system – and that it has something to say, unlike most teen comedies these days, rather than just show.

Unable to find a college who will accept him, Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) decides to create one instead.  With the help of his friends (Jonah Hill, Columbus Short, Maria Thayer) he creates a web page, leases a rundown mental hospital, hires a former educator to be their dean (Lewis Black), and thus creates the South Harmon Institute of Technology.  His parents seem convinced and he and his friends sit down to party all summer long.

Then hundreds of other students show up, who all applied and were accepted on the web page (“acceptance is just one click away,” oops!).  Instead of admitting the truth, Bartleby and his friends set out to create a college out of nothing.  Unimpressed with the regular college experience they create a curriculum to suit what the students want to learn, where students teach each other.  Despite the heavy amount of partying, a weird thing happens – they begin to learn.

Of course they’re found out and decide to fight for the right to continue something that was worth much more than they ever thought possible.

Justin Long is well cast as the likeable but conniving lead.  Expect many comparisons to Ferris Bueller.  The collection of students has your obvious characters but the addition of a kid who wants to learn to blow up things with his mind or an athlete who only wants to be an artist, give the standard fare a nice spin.  And then there’s Lewis Black who is worth the price of admission alone as the honest, to a fault, no nonsense dean.  He’s just terrific.

There’s also the obligatory love story about a girl from high school (Blake Lively) who ignored him and ends up going to the neighboring school.  Of course she finally sees a new side of Bartleby and you can guess what happens next.  Not as good as the rest of the picture, but probably more interesting than I just made it sound.

What I found interesting about this picture was, in the end, what it has to say about education, learning, and teaching.  Aside from being fun, it actually has tons of heart.  As unconventional as the school is, it actually helps the students there.  Those who, like Bartleby, couldn’t get into another college, find some meaning and begin to discover what they want to do with their lives.  Overly simplistic at times, but its a celebration of learning, discovery, and growing up – three things you don’t find in films like last month’s John Tucker Must Die.

Go see this film, you’ll have a great time and it’s got its heart in the right place.  It’s nice every once in awhile to see a teenage comedy that’s not just a gross out dumb fest.  Long graduates from sidekick, proving he can carry a film with a good supporting cast around him.  And a movie whose main messages include not accepting rejection – by finding a way to turn it around into a positive, and that every kid out there is good enough for the right college experience, would be something even the NEA could be proud of (though they might take issue with the total absence of qualified teachers; oh well, nothing’s perfect).

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: