Hi 92 / Lo 72
|Volume 68, Issue 14,
Friday, September 13, 2002
Arts & Entertainment
'Stealing Harvard' fails to entertain
By Chris Brunt
Stealing Harvard is the least funny movie of all time. I laughed more during Schindler's List. I even laughed more during Rosemary's Baby and The Bicycle Thief.
Any film that stars Jason Lee, Tom Green and Dennis Farina should satisfy and delight. How this disastrous reel ever found itself in mass circulation is a symptom of this nation's lunacy. Given the forum at hand, I'll bypass the cultural degeneration bit and continue polemizing.
Brad McCulloch directs the venerable trio of stars through mayhem, slapstick and idiocy. His technique is comparable to the cinematography of television's COPS. Martin Hynes and Peter Tolan penned the script. I only mention this because after witnessing this debacle, they should be lashed until they drop.
The likable Jason Lee was made famous largely because of the genius of Kevin Smith, and his on-screen persona rarely changes. Lee, however, is a talented comedic actor, and he's the only part of this movie that isn't an embarrassment. Unfortunately for Mr. Lee, his lines are lamer than his wardrobe.
Lee plays the good-natured John Plummer, an every-man type who is engaged to the intolerable Leslie (Elaine Warner).
Leslie is intent on spending their nest egg on a house, so they can get married and live happily ever after. But John's poverty-stricken niece is accepted into Harvard, and complications abound. For some reason or another, John must come up with $30,000 for Harvard tuition personally, hence the film's inventive title.
Enter Duff, played by the illustrious Tom Green. Duff is John's old friend from high school who is not in the least bit shocking, zany or ridiculous. There is so much potential for comedic excellence here it's all the more crushing to one's spirit to watch it crumble to pieces.
Tom Green can do the "zany and ridiculous" thing better than most, but he has to have some shred of decent material to work with. Stealing Harvard provides none.
Dennis Farina, the bitter and sarcastic Italian-American actor of Snatch‚ plays Leslie's overprotective father, and is on the receiving end of many a gag. Farina is the most distinguished person involved in this production, and to see him gasping for air in a sea of clichés is truly disheartening.
To review the generally capable collection of actors in this movie cannot save it from abomination.
The stunts are tired and have been done much better elsewhere, and the sparse attempts at melodrama (revolving around the cute little niece) are insulting and wholly nauseating.
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