Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Pitched squarely at teenagers who are still in the process of deciding what they want to do with the rest of their lives, Accepted is a fast-paced, happy-go-lucky comedy which scrapes the bottom of the barrel when it comes to toilet humour yet still somehow manages to charm. Its amiable heroes and starched villains fill out a familiar storyline with gusto. The trouble is, in the movie as in life, that's all they know how to do.

When young Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) finds himself rejected by eight different colleges, life is looking grim. His parents are furious and his cynical kid sister is less than sympathetic. Unless he can get an education, he's told, he'll be a nobody (as if being called 'Bartleby' wasn't bad enough). Then he hits upon an idea - he'll create a fake college acceptance letter, build a fake website and hide out for a year or two, convincing his family it's all for real. Of course, the scheme soon gets out of hand, and before long he finds himself responsible for several hundred would-be students who have never known anything but rejection, students whose hopes are pinned on an idea which he must strive to make real.

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The plot of Accepted is obvious from the outset, but most of the way through that doesn't cause a problem, as there are enough subplots and asides to carry it along quite happily; only towards the end, when things start getting altogether too serious, does it start to drag. The ensemble cast are clearly having a great time and there's some really good development of minor characters, contributing to a delightful final scene. The trouble is that the film's own central idea gradually undermines its cheerful approach. For all their high hopes and moral triumphs, the students of Bartleby's South Harmon Institute of Technology (S.H.I.T.) are, in the words of Leonard Cohen, reaching for the sky just to surrender. Their dream of fighting the system ends when their four years at college are up; they may dream of doing something more with their lives than serving burgers, but at most they're delaying it. This makes the governing body's assertion that the purpose of college is to encourage young people's creativity rather distateful. One can't help but think that they might be better off actually learning something.

If you prefer films which stray from formula enough to teach you something, give this one a miss. In the absence of anything better, however, Accepted can certainly provide an acceptable night's entertainment.

Reviewed on: 08 Oct 2006
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Rejected from eight colleges, Bartleby decides to start his own.
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Director: Steve Pink

Writer: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage

Starring: Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Adam Herschmann, Blake Lively, Columbus Short, Maria Thayer, Lewis Black

Year: 2006

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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