Trash or Treasure: ACCEPTED

J.C. De Leon

by: J.C. De Leon
May 27th, 2011

“Trash or Treasure” is a recurring feature at Gordon and the Whale in which I return to a film that holds a special place in my heart (for a multitude of possible reasons) - and see if it is still deserving of that place. Have I been holding on to a piece of trash, or are my beloved films still bonafide treasure?

First off, apologies for the tardiness of this edition of Trash or Treasure. I recently graduated from college and I’ve been busy with that. Naturally, I’ve had college on the brain quite a bit lately and I wanted to choose a film about college that I have an unabashed level of admiration for. Now, I could have gone with a classic college film like ANIMAL HOUSE or BACK TO SCHOOL, but I wanted to choose something that didn’t necessarily embody the clichéd college movie formula.

Why would I want to do this? Well, because I didn’t have the typical clichéd college experience. I was in college for a long time (a really long time) and, for most of that time, I worked forty-plus hour a week jobs, so the college norms were never really an experience that was available to me. This led me to choosing ACCEPTED, a film about a high school slacker who, in an act of desperation, creates a fake college for him and his other friends who were all rejected from every school they applied to.

On the surface level, the film has a lot to like. In addition to Justin Long, ACCEPTED stars Jonah Hill, Blake Lively, and Lewis Black. When I first saw the film, I really liked the performances being put forth here, and I really loved the sharp dialogue. Jonah Hill in particular is at his sarcastic best here, even as he goes through the stereotypical fraternity hazing which, at times, is hilarious. Written in part by the team that wrote NEW YORK MINUTE starring the Olsen twins, it was a bit of a surprise that I liked the writing as much as I do. For me, there are also a few small roles by actors that I’ve seen in other films that I really like - actors like Diora Baird playing the lovely Kiki and Adam Herschman playing the incredibly dumb, yet culinary-inclined Glen. I felt it was a simply enjoyable movie in general, but at the time I liked the movie so much because it spoke to me and made me think about the difficulties I was having in college at this point in my college career.

Right off the bat, there’s a reason why this film spoke to me as much as it did when I first saw it. Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) was a slacker in high school, kind of like I was, and he seems like the kind of kid who always skates by in life, exactly the kind of kid I was (and kind of still am). He had parents that stressed the importance of college, while he didn’t really feel like it was the most important thing. While I wouldn’t have gone so far as to create a fake college, I would have done anything to not have to go to college and I couldn’t wait to be done.

Seeing the experience Bartleby had when he explores a real college and sees kids either not paying attention, or paying too much attention and stressing themselves out way too much, made me think that what I was doing in college wouldn’t necessarily help out as I got older, because all it seemed like I was doing was memorizing facts and figures. I really loved the message, although it was definitely an impractical one that ACCEPTED had about the monotony of college. College should be a time where you discover what it is that’s important to you and where your passions truly lie. In my case, I went to college studying one thing, and had I taken the traditional four-year path, well I wouldn’t be here writing for this wonderful website. I don’t regret anything about the path that I chose and much like Bartleby, I discovered something I’m truly passionate about. Film.

Upon revisiting this as a fresh college graduate, I thought a lot about the journey I took in my college career and how it’s led me to where I am right now, in this moment. Much like my lack of regret for how long it took me to graduate from college, I don’t regret at all how much I love this movie.

Verdict: Treasure with an undergraduate degree in the field of awesome sciences and technologies.

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