Hey, remember that Saturday Night Live sketch about the college that's actually just a sham so slacker kids can live off tuition money? Well, here's a movie hoping you don't, since it doesn't have a lot going for it beyond that premise. Accepted plays like the PG-13 younger brother of Old School, so it wouldn't hurt if you've forgotten that film, too. In fact, the ideal viewer of Accepted probably won't have seen any college comedies before. Or any slobs-vs.-snobs movies like Caddyshack. For those who have, it's kind of a snore.
Still playing a teenager four years after Ed went off the air, Justin Long stars as a low-achieving high-school senior who fails to get into college. Hooking up with some friends in a similar plight, Long rents and converts an abandoned psychiatric hospital into the South Harmon Institute of Technology (note the acronym), sends out a handful of acceptance letters, and starts a life of video games and pizza. Unfortunately, that life only lasts a few hours. Then Long and his friends realize the mistake they've made in setting up a fully functional website, as would-be co-eds start arriving for the start of classes.
Are lessons learned? Do preconceptions about education get shattered? Do motorcycles fly into swimming pools in slow motion? The answers will not surprise you. But it isn't the predictability that drags Accepted down so much as the complete lack of spark. The tone is agreeable enough, but while Long makes an enjoyable sidekick, he seems a little lost in his first leading-man role. Not that he has that much to work with. The script leans on broad preppie and freak stereotypes and predigested jokes; it's no surprise when Long's love interest Blake Lively walks in on her well-groomed frat-boy boyfriend making out with someone else, and a character named "A.D.D." behaves exactly as expected. Even Lewis Black seems at a loss as to how to liven things up in his part as the school's alcoholic "dean." When Black barking about the indignities life has visited upon his ass doesn't work, you know a movie has problems.