Turned down by every college in America, serial underachiever Bartleby Gaines (Long) and his slacker mates mock up a fake institution to fool their folks.
At a time when the dearth of good ideas in Hollywood is declaimed louder than ever, it’s a minor tragedy when a good idea does come along and the resulting movie fails to do it justice.
In the hands of the Weitz brothers, or John Landis in his prime, a cracking teen comedy might have been mined from a bunch of affable losers bucking the system by founding a fake college when the real thing gives them the bird. And with a subtext of self-affirmation and a dig at the American higher education system as part-rich-kid’s holiday camp/part-Darwinian training ground for the job market, it might have carried a useful message, too.
Instead, Accepted goes for cheap yucks, stereotyped characters and a feeble plot so full of holes you could strain spaghetti through it. Of course, all of that would be — ahem — academic if the laughs were up to scratch. Sadly, the likeable young cast of mostly unknowns is left to fire off would-be zingers that fail to fly. For all that, it’s not a total bust. Long is always goofily charming, Jonah Hill is good value as the put-upon, nerdy fatso, and Lewis Black is a hoot as the deadbeat principal dispensing dyspeptic life lessons to the adoring student body like a cantankerous, boozy Buddha.
Mildly amusing at best and a criminal waste of a great concept.