Back-To-School Month: "Accepted" Review

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A high school slacker who's rejected by every school he applies to opts to create his own institution of higher learning, the South Harmon Institute of Technology, on a rundown piece of property near his hometown.
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Back-To-School Month: "Accepted" Review

Rating: PG-13 (language, sexual material, and drug content)
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: Aug. 18, 2006
Directed by: Steve Pink
Genre: Comedy

College is a place that most people aspire to experience someday. Apart from this, the vast majority of parents expect their kids to attend college to gain a noteworthy qualification and have the luxury of following a career path of their own choosing. However, not everyone can be accepted to higher education, due to varying factors. With the expectation for college attendance being so strong, it’s not entirely unrealistic to imagine a rejected teenager creating a fake college in order to satisfy their parents' demands. "Accepted" is a comedic film that pokes fun at colleges and universities by showing a group of rejected students who create their own college full of so-called college rejects.

Bartleby Gaines, the film's main character, is played by Justin Long. Bartleby's sidekick in setting up the fake college is Sherman Schrader III, played by Jonah Hill. When Long was originally provided with the script, he was apprehensive that this type of film would suit the PG-13 that the film studio was aiming for. He felt that an R-rating would allow the cast and crew greater scope to truly portray the types of activities that occur on many college campuses all across America. However, a lower rating allowed the film to be shown to a much wider audience, and avoiding any risqué scenes meant that the focus was on the meaning behind the film's plot rather than on any superficial scenes.

The film begins by introducing Bartleby as a complete loser who spends most of his time creating fake IDs for his friends. Although he has a convincing swagger about him, he is not able to bluff his way through high school. As a result, Bartleby is rejected by every university and college he applies for, even the ones with high acceptance rates. In fear of his father finding out about his failure, Bartleby creates a fake college titled the South Harmon Institute of Technology (S.H.I.T.) with the help of his close friend Sherman. Other friends such as Rory, Hands, and Glen all agree to join the newly formed college due to various motivations of their own.

The problem with creating a fake college is that no one has heard of it before. To remedy this dilemma, Sherman creates a website for the school. However, there are still problems when it comes to trying to legitimize the college. After Bartleby's father demands to speak with the school dean, Bartleby convinces Sherman's uncle, Ben (played by Lewis Black), to temporarily step into the role. Ben is able to pull off a legitimate performance as dean and even paints a mock school campus to make the idea seem all the more real.

Before long, hundreds of students apply to the college's website. Almost all of these students have also been rejected elsewhere, so Bartleby decides to go along with it and let students become their own teachers and make up their own classes. However, once the dean of nearby Harmon College discovers what is going on, he attempts to unearth Bartleby as a fraud.

After it is revealed that the South Harmon Institute of Technology is not a legitimate educational facility, the school is shut down. In one last desperate attempt to save the school he has created, Bartleby goes in front of the State of Ohio educational accreditation board, where he gives an impassioned speech on the failings of modern education and how everyone deserves a chance to learn. The board gives Bartleby a one year probation period to see just how successful his college can be. The film ends with Bartleby's father congratulating his son on achieving his goal of attending college.

While "Accepted" may be passed off as just another cheesy comedy flick, in actual fact it has a strong message about the role of education in our society today. Long remarked that he felt connected to his character Bartleby in some way because of their shared traits. The chemistry between Long and Hill really sets the pace of the film. Much of the script between these two was not penciled in stone, so they had the opportunity to ad-lib.

"Accepted" was considered to be a commercial success, particularly in the domestic market, where it made more than thirty-six million dollars. Critic responses to the film were mixed, but the overall consensus was that "Accepted" had a few good laughs along with a compelling message. The film is something to be enjoyed, with few serious scenes involved, but it may just change the way you view education in the twenty-first century.

Rated 3 of 5 stars