I had low expectations for Accepted. The advertising campaign painted it as an “Animal House” for a new generation. So walking into a viewing of it I was expecting the lowbrow humor to be high and the heart and the point to be minimal. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.
The premise of the movie follows Bartelby Gaines, better known as “B” to his friends, seeking to get into college as he is in the process of graduating from high school. He is a student who has slacked off his high school career, and has even written an entrance essay to his multiple colleges he is attempting to be accepted into entitled “I Don’t Know.” He does not get into any of them. At all. Not even the state school.
His parents disappointed in him and sharing their disappointment with anyone who asks, B decides to fake an acceptance letter from the South Hampton School of Technology, which does become a major running gag that the school’s namesake is S.H.I.T. This all blows up and B must literally create a college from scratch to keep up the lie to keep his parents at bay. The plan backfires and he has upwards of 300 students who show up to be accepted when no other college will have them.
The movie is really a story that explores the traditional educational model and its flaws, and explores the idea of a non-traditional, student initiated learning experience and it’s validity. It is also a story about acceptance of individuals for who they are, not what they are capable of producing financially, or what society expects them to be. And it does not boil down to a “let me be me because that is all I can be” message, but one that speaks highly of the idea of education as an ever-changing and growing organism that happens everywhere, especially outside of the classroom.
There are some drawbacks to the movie. Sexual innuendo, while not heavy, is present, showing a life where sex outside of marriage has no consequences. It also has a minor subplot where a stripper enrolls at S.H.I.T. and becomes a “star” at the school, garnering some attention for the wrong reasons. The language factor is, obviously, a large draw, with profanities littered throughout. The idea that one can lie his way through life and not expect to get caught is a little dangerous.
But get caught B does. And he has to rectify his mistakes and the relationships that have been damaged by his lie.
Overall, the movie has a great heart and a powerful message of the importance of true education, the human need to be accepted by real community, and what it might take to truly improve yourself. Accepted is a movie with a lot of heart, with characters that do desire to be honest and learn. A desire to grow. A desire to be truly accepted. And I definitely recommend it to anyone, especially anyone who is in the business of education themselves.