Sunday, November 17, 2013
Accepted: Simply GENIUS thought provoking FUN
Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) is a persuasive high-school senior who, among other pranks, creates fake IDs. His gifts do not extend to grades, however, and he receives rejection letters from all of the universities and colleges to which he applies, including those with high acceptance rates.
In an attempt to seek approval from his strict father (Mark Derwin), Bartleby creates a fake college, the South Harmon Institute of Technology (S.H.I.T.). He is aided by his best friend, Sherman Schrader III (Jonah Hill), who has been accepted into the prestigious Harmon College, and fellow rejects Rory Thayer (Maria Thayer), a hard-working girl who, due to prevalence of Legacy preferences, failed to get in to Yale University, the only school she applied to, Hands Holloway (Columbus Short), who lost his athletic scholarship after an injury, and Glen (Adam Herschman), who got a "0" on the SAT when he neglected to sign his name.
To make the "college" seem legitimate, Bartleby convinces Sherman to create a fully functional Web site for the school. Later on, with Rory's help he also leases an abandoned psychiatric hospital adjacent to Harmon College and renovates it to look like a college campus, using the college enrollment fee that his father gave to him.
When his domineering father insists on meeting the dean, Bartleby hires Schrader's uncle, Ben Lewis (Lewis Black), a former educator, to play that role.
The seemingly innocent ploy quickly spins out of control when the website, which automatically accepts any applicant, enrolls hundreds of other rejected students.
Bartleby realizes that these people have nowhere else to go, so he lets them believe that the school is real, a place where they will finally feel accepted.After a visit to Harmon disenchants him with traditional college life, he has the students make up their own classes and be their own teachers.
Students write down what they want to learn on a giant whiteboard, with classes ranging from the culinary arts and sculpting to "Taking a Walk and Thinking about Stuff," "Foreign Affairs: Hooking Up Overseas," "Rock Our Faces Off 222," and the invention of one freaky kid (Jeremy Howard) who wants to learn how to "blow shit up...with my mind."
Bartleby even goes so far as to create a school newspaper (the S.H.I.T. Rag) and a mascot (the S.H.I.T. Sandwiches).
Meanwhile, the dean of nearby Harmon College, Richard Van Horne (Anthony Heald), makes plans to construct the Van Horne Gateway, an adjacent park-like "verdant buffer zone" by which the dean hopes "to keep knowledge in, and ignorance out." He dispatches Hoyt Ambrose (Travis Van Winkle) to free up the nearby properties, but when Bartleby refuses to relinquish the lease for the South Harmon property, Hoyt sets to work trying to reveal the college as a fake.
The dispute turns personal, since Bartleby has been vying for the affections of Hoyt's ex-girlfriend, Monica Moreland (Blake Lively). Hoyt exposes South Harmon as a fake institution through Sherman, who is attempting to join Hoyt's fraternity as a legacy, but is treated with humiliation and abuse by his fraternity brothers. After having Sherman beaten up, Hoyt forces him to hand over all the files he has created for South Harmon.
Hoyt then contacts all the students' parents to expose the school as a fake. Soon after the parents come and as a result of that, the institute is shut down. However as Sherman's has taken the initiative to file for accreditation, it gives Bartleby a chance to make his college legitimate.
At the State of Ohio educational accreditation hearing, Bartleby makes an impassioned speech about the failures of conventional education and the importance of following one's own passions instead of being dictated on what to do, convincing the board to grant his school a one-year probation to test his new system.
The institute reopens, with more students enrolling, including Sherman and Monica. Also, Bartleby finally earns the approval of his father, who is proud that his son actually owns a college. As the film closes, Van Horne is seen walking to his car in the Harmon College parking lot, only to watch it suddenly explode. Bartleby watches in astonishment as the freaky guy from earlier tells him "I told you I could do it", in that he made his psychokinetic explosions reality.
To me, Accepted is a simple take on education industry. It happens that these days, our generation lives by a certain standard that if not provoked, and flexed to a certain extent, it shall waste good talents like Bartleby's.
Of course, to some extent, it was too good to be true. but the ideals put forth are worthy. thought provoking.
Plus, I got JL and CS at their most carefree roles. JL is admirable and reminds me a lot about my younger brother who didn't graduate himself. sometimes life is more than just certificates and good job. it's about how you live your life and impacts on others.
Accepted has put JL in my good books the same way Get Over it puts Ben Foster on my map. They are both good and off-beat, a delight to put on rerun :)