Reviewed by: Susan Quirk
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
August 18, 2006 (wide)
“When every college turned them down… they made one up.”
Oops! Bartleby (Justin Long) forgot to do his homework all four years in high school and now the unfair college establishment wants to hold this against him and not let him get into even a crummy college. Even his college entrance essay entitled “I Don’t Have a Clue” provided no help. His unsupportive parents who apparently didn’t notice his lack of academic prowess realize now that he is certainly doomed to a lifetime of failure if he doesn’t get a college degree. To fix this situation for himself and his similarly rejected friends, Bartleby fakes an acceptance letter, creating South Harmon Institute of Technology (acronym S.H.I.T.) to appease his parents.
To cover for his first lie, Bartleby decides to use the ten thousand dollars his father gives for tuition to rent and repair an abandoned mental hospital in order to make it appear as his college, continuing the ruse. The false Web site created for South Harmon, accidentally attracts and “accepts” hundreds of students so Bartleby is faced with the daunting task of actually creating a college for them to attend.
This massive deception could have been funny and entertaining with some life lessons thrown in, but instead Bartleby makes up a college that provides a forum for continuous profanity, numerous crass jokes about masturbation, premarital sex, drunkenness, oral sex, drug use, and endless variations on the word, sh*t. Class time at South Harmon consists of pool parties, ogling voluptuous girls in string bikinis, creating phallic statues, out of control rock concerts, wet t-shirt contests, and psychic channeling to blow things up. Just for fun, students use electro-shock treatments as a way to get high. The crazy thing is, the audience is actually supposed to view this extended adolescence as helping these kids “find themselves” and exploring their “artistic side.”
The rival academic college, the legitimate Harmon University, whose claim “the best colleges are defined by how many people they reject” is portrayed as even worse. Bartleby’s friend, Schader (Jonah Hill), who attends the real Harmon University, believes that the main purpose of the college experience is to have sex with beautiful girls. While Bartleby can be commended for encouraging Schader to say no to the indignities of frat-boy hazing, the women in this film are not afforded the same favor. Uncle Ben (Lewis Black), the cynical, alcoholic Bartleby hires as dean of South Harmon, wants to know why telling a girl she has “nice t*ts” is sexual harassment. Uncle Ben’s lectures include a barrage of dialog too profane to quote.
“Accepted” attempts to tap into the angst that teens experience in the rat race to get into college. The process can be unfair, with some kids cheating on exams, others having to compete with students that have the luxury of private SAT tutors. The ability to gain even a good high school education can leave many teens wringing their hands as they watch perhaps less deserving kids awarded. However, the flip side of this is not giving up or being a flake. “Accepted” preaches that it does not matter what you have to offer or how hard you are willing to work, but instead that partying your life away or lying to get your way is a legitimate option. The good news is that Christ will accept people just the way they are. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The even better news is that Jesus will not leave you in your old life but give you a new life, and this new life will not be a continuance of trying to be okay with being aimless and lost.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy