College students, from left, Hands (Columbus Short), Bartleby (Justin Long), Glen (Adam Herschman) and Schrader (Jonah Hill) gawk at a passerby in the comedy Accepted.


Stars Justin Long, Jonah Hill

Director Steve Pink

*** (out of five)

Accepted is a shaggy, silly mash-up of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and National Lampoon’s Animal House, about a bunch of high school graduates who invent a fake college so as not to disappoint their parents when they’re rejected by all the real institutions, and find themselves actually having to run the thing when a few hundred other rejectees turn up for orientation.

The fraudulent South Harmon Institute of Technology — and yes, the initials are indeed unfortunate — is the brainchild of one Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long, who plays the slackerish Mac in those new Apple ads). With his similarly undesirable friends, Bartleby leases an abandoned mental institution and fixes it up into a place where people can just hang out and do whatever.

Naturally, this cheeses off the crusty dean of the local Harmon University, who’d been planning to turn the South Harmon campus into a lawn, and war — a kind of lazy, casual-insults-exchanged- at-parties kind of war — is declared.

You know how this goes. The nerds take on the preppies, and the guy gets the girl and so on. Accepted isn’t original in the slightest, but it’s witty and clever, and the people who made it respect the idea of character comedies in which the characters remain true to their cracked little selves, rather than pivoting according to the needs of the next big gag. And they’ve filled the picture with people like Long, Jonah Hill, Adam Herschman, Maria Thayer and Lewis Black — sharp performers who can spin a clever line into a belly laugh.

It’s preposterous, sure. But then, so is the idea of snakes on a plane, and nobody seems to have any problem buying that.