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Stealing Harvard Review

By Shawn McKenzie 09/11/2002

Imagine this scenario: you have a comedy with a funny concept for a plotline.  You have gotten ďKids in the HallĒ alum Bruce McCulloch to direct it and the very funny actors Jason Lee, Dennis Farina, and John C. McGinley to star in it.  Heck, you even got the very sexy and funny wife of ďFreaks and GeeksĒ creator Judd Apatow, Leslie Mann, to play the lead female role.  Where could you go wrong?  Try throwing in the extremely unfunny actor Tom Green.  Now you know where Iím going with this (or at least I hope you do.)

Stealing Harvard is the story of John Plummer (Lee), a man who seems to be generally happy with life, aside from a few small quirks.  He lives with his girlfriend Elaine Warner (Mann) and works for her father (Farina) at a medical supplies store called Homespital.  The quirks in Johnís life include some unusual habits that Elaine has in bed, a weird closeness between Elaine and her father, and her fatherís unspoken hatred towards him.  Other than that, things are going great.  He has just found out that he and Elaine now have $30,000 for a new house, so they can finally get married.  Then one day, after a visit to his older sister Patty (Megan Mullally), he is reminded that he had made a promise to his niece Noreen (Tammy Blanchard) that he would pay for her college education if she ever made it in (he was consoling her after losing early in a spelling bee.)  His share after her savings and student loans equals approximately $30,000, the amount he has saved up for a house.  For some blockhead reason, he turns to his friend Duff (Green) for help.  Duff comes up with all sorts of various wacky illegal schemes to get the money for John (most of them involving robbery.)  Both Elaineís father and police detective Charles (McGinley) become increasingly suspicious of their activities, including dealing with a known criminal (and former high school classmate of John and Duff) David Loach (Chris Penn.)

Green severely brings down the quality of this otherwise funny movie.  Every scene that doesnít include Green is amusing.  I felt that same way watching the 2000 movie Road Trip.  Fortunately, for that movie, Green had less screen time than Jar-Jar Binks did in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom MenaceStealing Harvard has him as a lead character though, and his childish attempt at humor is so unfunny itís embarrassing.  This movie is such a dilemma for me, because on one hand, I laughed many times during the non-Green scenes, but cringed during most of the scenes with him in it.  It is too bad one man has such power over a movie.

I donít know if McCulloch had a hand in the casting, but I know he has worked with Green before.  He would do best to avoid the man in the future.  Be aware if you go to see Stealing Harvard that itís not as bad as Greenís own Freddy Got Fingered (the worst movie of 2001; which shows you what happens if you let him write, direct, and star in a movie), but it isnít as good as Road Trip, which kept him at a minimum.  Save this one for video.  You can fast-forward past his scenes that way!

Ratings System:

SEE THIS MOVIE!

Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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