High school senior Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) is your classic underachiever. While his grades aren’t the greatest, he always has some sort of scam going on, and has a knack for talking his way out of any situation. After he is rejected from every college he applied to—even his safety school, Ohio State University—Bartleby tries to spin the news to his parents (Mark Derwin & Ann Cusack) as a positive, but even they aren’t falling for it. So he comes up with a brilliant new plan to get his parents off his back, creating an acceptance letter from a made-up college. He even asks best friend Sherman (Jonah Hill) to create a website for the fake South Harmon Institute of Technology in case his father decides to check into it. Everything seems to work like a charm, and Bartleby’s father hands him the tuition check…but then he tells Bartleby that is looking forward to dropping him off at college, and meeting the Dean.
So now Bartleby must actually create this college for real if he’s going to fool his parents. Sherman begrudgingly agrees to help him, and they are joined by fellow rejected students Rory (Maria Thayer), “Hands” (Columbus Short) and Glen (Adam Herschman). Together, they turn an abandoned mental institution into the S.H.I.T. campus. Bartleby also hires Sherman’s unemployed Uncle Ben (Lewis Black) to play the part of the dean—Ben is a former professor whose mouth and passionate ideas always seems to get him in trouble. However, things soon get even more complicated when Bartleby discovers that a couple hundred other new students have arrived on campus—it turns out that Sherman’s web site was a little too realistic, and offered a 100% acceptance policy. So if Bartleby is going to pull this ruse off, he is going to have to figure out how run a school for real, how to house and feed these hundreds of students, and how to come up with a curriculum!
Meanwhile, Sherman is the fourth generation of his family to matriculate at neighboring Harmon University, where he is joined by fellow freshman—and Bartleby’s high school crush—Monica (Blake Lively). Monica is dating Hoyt Ambrose (Travis Van Winkle), a member of the fraternity Sherman is pledging as a legacy, and who often puts Sherman in humiliating and embarrassing situations as part of the his hazing. Head of the prestigious university is the snooty, evil Dean Richard Van Horne (Anthony Heald), who is eager to build a grand namesake pathway into Harmon University. But in order to do so, he needs to buy up all of the neighboring land around the school, and that includes the old abandoned mental institution…which he now learns has been turned into a competing college. So the dean sets his lackey Hoyt to take care of things.
When I first saw the the poster for this film, I was expecting another raunchy campus comedy, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie goes in another direction. While there is certainly a lot of wild, wacky humor, the film also has a lot of heart, and an uplifting message and tone. Shortly into the film, Bartleby has the opportunity to admit to his ruse and shut things down, but he quickly realizes that the students accepted to S.H.I.T. are all in a similar situation to him—no other school wanted them, and they have no other place to go. Things initially start off like one big party, but Bartleby sees a more noble purpose, and the good he can bring to these students’ lives. He wants to give his student body a different kind of education, one unlike the high-pressure, soul-crushing experiences of those at schools like Harmon University. At his school, the students will also be the teachers, and determine their own curriculum—classes that they are actually interested in!
A lot of the humor comes from the wacky oddballs that make up the new student body of S.H.I.T. (and of course, that acronym comes into play a lot). These are outcasts that didn’t fit in anywhere else, such as Abernathy Darwin Dunlap (Robin Lord Taylor) who seems like he could have been an escaped patient from the site’s former mental hospital, another student (Jeremy Howard) who believes he can blow things up with his mind, a former stripper who paid her tuition in singles, plus skateboarders, stoners and everything in between. The only adult at this faux university is Uncle Ben, who’s always going off on these hilarious, angry diatribes about the man or how things really work in society—a role that feels tailored perfectly for comedian Lewis Black. The film has so many recognizable faces, many of whom have gone on to bigger roles in the 14 years since this movie was first released.
Accepted was previously released on the now extinct HD-DVD format, but Mill Creek has brought it to Blu-ray for the first time. The release provides solid video and audio. The picture is quite satisfying, looking very clean, with nice, bright colors. No matter how much craziness is happening on the S.H.I.T. campus, the picture remains detailed, crisp and pleasing. The audio track provides clear dialogue and showcases the film’s (now throwback) pop soundtrack. It also does a nice job of throwing the viewer into the action of the activities happening throughout the S.H.I.T. campus, whether that be a motorcycle flying overhead into the pool, some craziness in the kitchen, or a big campus-wide concert.
The disc comes packed in a standard HD keepcase without a slipcover, and ports over most of the bonus material from the previous HD-DVD/DVD release, which includes an audio commentary, 13 minutes of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and about 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes featuettes. The original HD-DVD release also offered the commentary as a video/picture-in-picture track along with some production photographs and behind-the-scenes clips. Unfortunately, here it is just provided as audio. Also missing from the previous HD-DVD/DVD release are two music videos. There is no digital copy included.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.35:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Audio Commentary (1:32:55)
Director Steve Pink and stars Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Adam Herschman & Lewis Black provide an interesting and entertaining commentary throughout the film, sharing lots of fun behind-the-scenes stories, trivia and other anecdotes about the cast, sets and production. They also spend a lot of time poking fun at and talking over one another.
- Adam’s Accepted Chronicles (11:02)
In this odd, tongue-in-cheek mockumentary, thespian Adam Herschman gives a behind-the-scenes look into his acting process. Segments including doing verbal exercises with “vocal coach” Joe Hursley, talking with some of the filmmakers (Tom Shadyac’s assistant Dagan Handy, writers Bill Collage & Adam Cooper) to get Glen’s role expanded, and the cast and crew (wardrobe Suzette Davis, director Steve Pink, and actors Jonah Hill, Justin Long, Kaitlin Doubleday, Maria Thayer, Lewis Black, Diora Baird, Mark Derwin & Ann Cusack) expressing their concerns about Adams actions and attitude.
- The Making Of Accepted (10:10)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the script, working with a first time director, allowing for improv, their real-life friendships, playing games on set, and more. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with producers Tom Shadyac & Michael Bostick, director Steve Pink, screenwriters Adam Cooper & Bill Collage, and stars Justin Long (“Bartleby Gaines”), Lewis Black (“Uncle Ben”), Mark Derwin (“Jack Gaines”), Ann Cusack (“Diane Gaines”), Jonah Hill (“Sherman Schrader”), Adam Herschman (“Glen”), Blake Lively (“Monica”), Maria Thayer (“Rory”) & Columbus Short (“Hands”).
- Campus Tour (6:07)
On the original DVD release this Campus Tour was presented as an interactive map where you could click on a location to see behind-the-scenes videos. Here the clips just play back-to-back. Segments include pro skateboarders on the half-pipe (1:02), skateboard and motorcycle jumps into the pool (1:08), the big concert (1:16), playing around in the shock therapy room (1:22), and the frat house (1:19). Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with stunt coordinator Tom McComas, producer Tom Shadyac, pro skateboarders Mathius Ringstrom & Mike Crum, director Steve Pink, production designer Rusty Smith, and stars Blake Lively, Jonah Hill, Justin Ling, Columbus Short & Lewis Black.
- Deleted Scenes (12:59)
A fun collection of over a dozen deleted/extended/alternate scenes play back-to-back.
- Gag Reel (8:12)
In this humorous gag reel, the cast do impressions, flub, forget and improv lines, curse and make each other laugh, and just have fun on set.
- Easter Egg (:51)
Extended cut of the scene of Bartleby and Monica confronting Sherman in a hot dog costume. (To access, press left in the Bonus Features menu so the dot next to Audio Commentary turns from red to black, and then press OK.)
Accepted is a fun film that shoots for something more than just the typical raunchy campus comedy. It is filled with lots of hilarious, wacky characters played by a recognizable cast, many of who have gone on to bigger careers. It’s great to see this film finally get a Blu-ray release, especially after it got an HD-DVD release at the dawn of the format wars. Mill Creek’s release features solid video and audio, and ports over nearly all of the original bonus material. This is an easy recommendation for any fan of the cast, or anyone looking for a fun, smart college comedy.