HD DVD Title: Accepted (Combo format)
Screen format: 1080p 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 on DVD side)
First theatrical release: August 18, 2006
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: November 06 Widescreen and Standard DVDs
Director: Steve Pink
Starring: Justin Long, Blake Lively, Anthony Heald, Lewis Black
Sound Formats: English, Spanish, French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 (DD 5.1 on DVD side)
Length: 93 minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
When Suburban smartass Bartleby (Long) finds himself rejected from every college he has applied to, he does the only thing a tech savvy 2000s teen would do: he creates his own fake college. Thus, South Harmon Institute of Technology (yes, SHIT) is born. Unfortunately, it works a little too well, his virtual application process promises to ‘Reject rejection’ and that ‘Acceptance is only a click away’. B finds himself the unwitting dean of an entry class of thousands of rejects who all need to find their way in life: from crazed psychopaths to hardcore skaters, from topless dancers with a flair for fashion to the introvert who thinks he can make things blow up with his mind. B and friends act quickly and turn the new students into teachers themselves, encouraging them to ask ‘What do YOU want to learn’ and self hosting courses on topic that they are knowledgeable about, sharing the academic wealth as it were. With the tuition dollars rolling in, it’s only a matter of who will catch up with them first: the parents or the other schools in the area that only want to see SHIT shut down.
While I don’t think that Accepted will find its way into the legendary canon of timeless college movies that Old School and Animal House are in, it’s a fun little film that lives above its cast of nearly unknown actors and smaller budget. Key to this are the talents of producers including Tom Shadyac (Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty) and director Pink (writer of Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity). Also, comedian Lewis Black just goes to town in this film, taking the relatively small role of Uncle Ben (ha!) and tearing through the material, obviously improving on it with his own mannerisms and attitude. Long, known mostly for his role as the Mac in tv’s ubiquitous Apple ads, has a lot riding on his shoulders as the star of this film, and generally holds his own without indulging in the smarmyness that seems to be his calling card in those ads. Finally, the crazed student body itself has a few surprises that I won’t spoil, but indeed they help make the film fly by and provide its funniest moments.
Sound Quality: 2.5/5
If this film truly is 5.1 you would be hard pressed to prove it except in a few key segments where the rears come alive. This isn’t shocking in a character driven comedy but it does need to be noted. Scenes to be on the lookout for some aural fun include the dance hall party, the skateboard ramps and a few spooky effects are heard when the campus is first ‘discovered’. While dialogue is always crisp and clear, the music was almost completely forgettable (although with major acts such as Danger Mouse, the Pixies, Chemical Brothers, and even Ryan Adams, one wonders why you can’t even get the soundtrack at Amazon, hmmm) although well balanced. Bass, even during musical segments, was a non-factor as well (though there is one surprise spike at the very end, hint hint). Altogether the sound was just average, which again isn’t surprising.
Visual Quality: 4/5
On the other hand, the visual look of Accepted was surprisingly good for a film of this stature, starting with its choice of 2.35 widescreen. Obvious care was taken during the filming of Accepted to make sure that it didn’t LOOK like a low budget comedy and this care also comes through on this hi-def transfer. While it certainly isn’t going to be reference demo quality material, Accepted does have a very consistently pleasing color palette, is generally very sharp all the way through, and does not exhibit notable noise, distracting edge enhancement or any of the dust and scratches that have slipped through other recent Universal releases. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of many other comedies that are 2.35 to start with, and can’t think of any off the top of my head that have this good a transfer. This is a good sign for the future of transfers from Universal and I just wish its classic catalog was treated this well.
Extra Features: 4.5/5
Finally Universal takes U-Control to a place I can live with: Cast and Crew feature length commentary. This is actually a very natural use for the technology, and I found myself listening to about the first hour of it before dozing off. A half dozen members of the cast and crew including Black, Pink and Long are all together talking about their experiences on the film, and it’s even raunchier than the film itself. One thing I laughed at specifically, is that even they noted that viewers will have to watch the film a second time to view the commentary, which I took as a validation of my complaints! =) Also on the U-Control front, a series of production photographs stream during the film, and you can even do both the commentary and photos simultaneously. Neat!
Besides the U-Control features, there is a half hour ‘Making of’ featurette which is above average quality, two music videos which were not notable, a gag real which shows hilarious outtakes especially of Black, a half dozen deleted scenes. Surprisingly a few of these actually seemed to have been produced in high def, which is relatively unheard of and which I definitely need to encourage. Well done!
Perhaps the oddest extra is the very strange ‘Adam’s Accepted Chronicles’ which delves into the Glen character in depth, and profiles actor Adam Herschman. Looking over Herchman’s IMDB profile, I see that Accepted is his only piece of work, which is both pretty incredible and very strange. After seeing the Chronicles tho, it’s not clear just how tightly this guy is wrapped and maybe we won’t be seeing too much more of him, but if we do, he is an actor to watch out for.
Overall: 3.5/5 (not an average)
Accepted is definitely worth your time on a quiet night for a few laughs. While it won’t go down in history as one of the greatest comedies ever, it does have an interesting story and at least a few chuckles, especially where Lewis Black is to be found. While the sound is ultimately uninspiring, the visual side of things is of pretty high caliber. Also packing in a nice variety of extras including the first reasonable use of U-Control that I have experienced, Accepted is a solid package that delivers.