Accepted 

The curriculum for the filmmakers of the new high school-to-college comedy Accepted includes the venerable "Great Films" of the genre -- Animal House, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Risky Business, along with newer models such as Rushmore and Old School. Those films are all successful comedies, and, in mimicking them, Accepted is funny too. But Accepted distills the formula of the earlier films to such a degree that it isn't much more than the Cliff's Notes version of the classics.

The plot is high-concept for the lowest common denominator: When a group of graduating high school seniors don't get accepted to college, they form their own and pawn it off as the real thing to avoid their parents' wrath. When hundreds of other underachievers apply and are accepted (automatically, via a technical snafu), a real, albeit nontraditional, school is born.

Justin Long stars as the brains behind the plan, Bartleby Gaines. Long's comedic turn in Accepted emulates Vince Vaughn -- right down to Vaughn's patented wink and smile -- to such an extent that it would make Rich Little blush. Long also occasionally throws in a dash of Matthew Broderick's Ferris Bueller, but Gaines isn't as cool or charming as Bueller or any of Vaughn's memorable roles. His overall, fundamental lack of popularity doesn't make him endearing so much as pathetic.

The primary villain in the film is traditional college academics, and Accepted scores some hits, primarily during spitting diatribes from the fake college's fake dean, played by stand-up comedian Lewis Black. Black's inclusion inches the film toward being worthy of its genre predecessors. But the filmmakers can't resist rip-off, and they show themselves ignorant of one of the things their hated traditional colleges teach in Economics 101: the law of diminishing marginal utility.

Opens Friday, August 18th, multiple locations

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