"Justin Long & Jonah Hill I gladly accept. The rest ... meh."
Steve Pink's "Accepted" wants so badly to be another "Animal House" or "Revenge of the Nerds," but would probably settle for "Old School" or "Road Trip," and comes off most like "Van Wilder" or "Sorority Boys."The "pitch" was undoubtedly this:
"OK, so this smart-ass slacker kid doesn't get into ANY colleges, so he makes one up a fake college to appease his parents. Yeah, just like Jan Brady made up a fake boyfriend. Anyway, things get wacky when a bunch of other goofy slacker kids show up to enroll for the same fictional college!"
And apparently that's all it takes for Universal Pictures to cut you a big enough check to make a cheap college comedy.
Put aside the fact that we're dealing with a short sketch concept spread across a 90-minute movie, and the fact that Accepted roams from semi-satire to farty farce to unearned melodrama at the drop of a bong -- the movie simply isn't funny.
The amiable and generally amusing Justin Long gets his shot at anchoring a comedy all his own ... and let's just say the guy's not exactly a young Bill Murray (although that does seem to be the vibe he's going for: the lovable ne'er do well smartass). Long does wring a few stray chuckles from the paper-thin material, and he's blessed by an odd-looking sidekick (Jonah Hill) who does all the heavy lifting. (No lie, Hill gets about six laughs in a movie that offers maybe eight, and the kid steals the whole flimsy movie with no discernible effort.)
And here's a strange little note: Accepted marks the directorial debut of Steve Pink, frequent John Cusack collaborator and co-screenwriter on both Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity. But Mr. Pink does not get a screenwriting credit on Accepted, which sort of makes one wonder what he's even doing here in the first place. Lord knows this flick could have used a few extra punch-ups in the writers' room.It's a mildly diverting concept that's been brought to the screen with a notable lack of style and effort. The intended audience of college-age kids may find a handful of random chuckles here and there, but "Accepted" certainly won't be remembered a month after it's ingested.