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Although a promising start with enough decent laughs to keep you going, Accepted eventually degenerates into any number of college-themed underdog movies. Still, this could possibly gain Frat Pack pledge Justin Long his own acceptance.


Maybe it"s Accepted"s whole getting-into-college experience that grabs you. Most people have gone through it at one point or another--and for those high school seniors who are about to go through it, Accepted should ring true for them, too. The film revolves around Bartleby "B" Gaines (Justin Long), who has been rejected again and again from the colleges he"s applied to. It"s very frustrating, especially with his parents breathing down his neck. So what does the clever B do? Simple: Open his own university, the esteemed South Harmon Institute of Technology (of course, the acronym is not missed). Juggling the balls delicately in the air, B and his other college-less friends forge ahead with maintaining a fake, functioning university. But it may take more than just sleight of hand to keep the very free-forum South Harmon going, which has now gained quite a name for itself in the short time its been open. A lot more.


Long has been turning in hilarious performances as awkward but lovable goofballs in comedies such as Dodgeball and Galaxy Quest--and is probably most recognizable right now as the Mac guy who makes fun of the Dell guy in those Apple computer ads. But the affable actor finally gets his big shot at full-fledged goofball-hood, successfully carrying Accepted on his own. As B, you quickly warm up to his easygoing yet quietly sarcastic style, a method he told Entertainment Weekly he developed under the tutelage of fellow Frat Packer, Vince Vaughn. Of course, in Accepted, Long has some help, too. There"s some strong supporting bits, especially from comedian and The Daily Show regular Lewis Black as Uncle Ben, the university"s neurotic, "we"re mad as hell and we aren"t going to take it anymore" make-believe dean. Good stuff. Rounding out the colorful cast is cute-as-a-button Blake Lively (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), playing the girl-next-door B adores, who defects to SHI...well, you get the picture.


You have to admit, college-based comedies are usually mindless fun, and Accepted is no exception. The premise alone lends itself to all kinds of mishaps and guffaws, especially when B and the gang turn a deserted former mental institution into an institution of higher learning. In his directorial debut, Steve Pink--best known for co-writing comedies such as High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank--understands this and hits most of the right beats. But unfortunately, Accepted can"t keep up its inimitable momentum--as B fights for the school"s unique curriculum as well as its right to exist at all--becoming Revenge of the Nerds meets Animal House meets Old School meets...I could go on forever. Maybe in the hands of a more experienced filmmaker, Accepted could have been taken to its own higher level, instead of lapsing into standard underdog territory.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 1/2 stars.