Justin Long as Bartleby Gaines
Adam Herschman as Glen
Jonah Hill as Sherman
Blake Lively as Monica
Mark Derwin as Jack Gaines
Columbus Short as Hands
Kellan Lutz as Dwayne
Maria Thayer as Rory
Diora Baird as Kiki
Lewis Black as Uncle Ben
Anthony Heald as Dean Richard Van Horne
Bartleby (Justin Long) is that perennial class slacker of so many teen comedies – streetwise and intelligent but completely lacking in ambition – who has discovered to his, and more importantly his parents’, horror that he has failed to get into any colleges. In a last ditch, and extremely short-term, attempt to appease his parents until he can figure out his next move, Bartleby invents his own school, the South Harmon Institute of Technology. His plan comes crashing down around him, however, when several hundred other academic rejects show up at the school’s door hoping for an education.
“Accepted” is the latest in a long and unoriginal line of comedies about teen and twenty-something social misfits trying to build a personal sense of self-worth despite what the rest of the world keeps telling them. It couldn’t be more of an “Animal House” rip-off if it were actually called “Animal House Rip-Off,” just with less titillation. Bartleby and friends suddenly find themselves having to run their own school resulting in self-directed classes where students study “whatever it is that they’re interested in.” For instance, watching girls sunbathe for credit.
Naturally, it’s not long before they find themselves in conflict with the evil Ivy League wannabe school next door that covets their land and looks down their noses at South Harmon’s teaching methods.
It has a few funny bits here and there, but they’re deeply mired in the seen-it-all-beforeness of the film. Director Steve Pink has written some sharp and witty scripts before; unfortunately he didn’t work on this one and the result is overall flat. Lewis Black as the lone “faculty” member has some moments of almost insight about the nature of education in America and its role in the increasing gap between classes, but these moments are few and far between and often as not are given up on in favor of platitudes about rejection and acceptance that don’t really take into account the realities of everyday life.
It probably plays well to young people still struggling to find their own identity, but it’s oh so empty.