Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Accepted (2006) - Slacker Comedy that gets Surprisingly Serious

Accepted DVD cover
"Accepted" (2006).

"Accepted" (2006) is one of those films that starts off trying to be as dumb as possible, then just can't keep up the pretense and has to show how nice and wonderful the characters really are.  Not really my cup of tea - I'm all for make 'em bad and then make 'em worse! - but some may find that a redeeming element for this one.

Johah Hill  Accepted 2006
...and, in this corner, taking the John Belushi role is....

I was surprised at "Accepted," directed by Steve Pink, because it manages to take a standard slacker comedy concept but somehow avoid all the worst excesses of the genre. By that I mean there isn't drug use, there isn't gratuitous sex, and the message stays positive throughout. And yet, it's still funny and even, dare I say it, inspirational. I have to hand it to the filmmakers, they walked a fine line and never fell off on the wrong side as so many of these films do.

Blake Lively looking sexy in Accepted
This, obviously, is a really pretty girl (Blake Lively) in "Accepted."

The premise of "Accepted" is silly, of course, with a bunch of slackers starting their own "college" in an abandoned insane asylum in order to convince their parents that they aren't total losers. Through the usual types of unbelievable inadvertent consequences, they wind up with a school full of other slackers who haven't made it through normal channels. So, what to do? Well, make do and make it work.

Accepted 2006
And this is a whole crew of students in "Accepted."

Justin Long is great in "Accepted" as the main slacker, Bartleby Gains (now there's a name for you!), but he gets lots of support from his high school buds (standouts Jonah Hill, Columbus Short and Adam Herschman) and the new students. Lewis Black, though, steals the film as a fellow burnout who tuned in and dropped out decades ago but is still up for helping out younger kindred spirits. In fact, it's the adults who really hold this film together, with Anthony Heald taking the old Joe Flynn role of the uptight rival dean and Mark Derwin and Ann Cusack providing great background support as Bartleby's somewhat gullible, but wonderfully understanding, parents. Maria Thayer is just striking as Bartleby's impossible (oh yeah?) love interest, and "Gossip Girl" star Blake Lively also is sexy as another one of the guys' fantasy love interests. In fact, you have to feel good at how these romantic subplots work themselves out, no matter how obvious the ending. There are some great, real lessons in "Accepted" about how to actually win the girl of your dreams, by the way.

Kaitlin Doubleday sexy Accepted 2006
Wait, did I mention really pretty girls?  Here's Kaitlin Doubleday in "Accepted."

"Accepted" is a great, inspirational film that has a lot of sight gags and obvious humor, but is best at making excellent points about letting people just do their own thing rather than trying to force them to do your thing. Which is a wonderful message for everyone.


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