A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie's premise involves students creating a "sham" university and lying to parents and authorities to make a facility for the classes they want to take (which include references to drugs). The made-up school's name is South Harmon Institute of Technology (you can guess the visible acronym). Characters frequently use this word (at least 40 times). The fake dean uses especially colorful language. Students drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and talk about drugs and sex (language includes slang for genitals and sex acts). Stereotypes abound.
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What's the story?
When Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) learns that he has not been accepted to college, he decides to lie to his parents. With the help of his computer whiz friend Sherman (Jonah Hill), he cuts and pastes a letter of acceptance from a made-up school. He takes Dad's check for tuition when offered. When his friends and other college rejects see how well the scam works, the South Harmon Institute of Technology (you can figure out the acronym yourself...) is born and a redecorated psychiatric hospital serves as the campus. Without teachers or accredited courses, the students decide what they want to study. As the students spend their parents' money and convince themselves they aren't "losers" after all, they're discovered by rival students at another college down the road, in particular a fraternity, who make it their special mission to take down Bartleby. Meanwhile, the beautiful Monica (Blake Lively) is supposed to be dating one of the frat boys, Hoyt (Travis Van Winkle), but she's charmed by Bartleby's sensitivity and apparent devotion.
Is it any good?
Bogged down by lazy writing and shoddy filmmaking, ACCEPTED is a raucous but pointless endeavor. Borrowing from every other college-located comedy, Steve Pink's movie is also low on originality, even though it appears to celebrate "creativity" in its low-achieving heroes.
That the rebellion has no shape seems not to matter to anyone. The "students" prefer to contemplate punk rock and take long walks. While such activities are not negative in and of themselves, the film makes the kids look unnecessarily unintelligent, a crowd of socially inept misfits who make Bartleby seem sharp by comparison. This strategy is underlined by the fact that Bartleby's the one who gets a girlfriend. Of course, the film needs a happy ending, so Monica is only briefly pouty when she finds out he's been lying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the pressures on college applicants to "get in": How might families work together to make this a less-stressful process? How might telling the truth be a more effective way for Bartleby to communicate with his parents? Families could also talk about the stereotyped portrayal of college life; what's it really like to be a college student?
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