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Stealing Harvard (2002)
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Review Date: September 13, 2002
Director: Bruce McCulloch
Writer: Peter Tolan
Producers: Susan Cavan
Actors:
Jason Lee as John Plummer
Tom Green as Duff
Leslie Mann as Elaine
Plot:
A nice guy who just scrounged together enough money to marry his sweetheart and buy a house, is surprised to find out that he had once made a promise to pay for his niece's tuition, if ever she got into College. Well, she just got into Harvard and our man needs to come up with $30,000 lickety-split! With his very strange friend Duff by his side, the duo set out to "steal" the money any which they can. Hilarity is supposed to ensue.
Critique:
Another typical Hollywood "cut & paste" job with two recognizable names as the leads, a decent premise and half a dozen laughs eventually leads to plenty of boredom, unsuccessful gags and a slippery spiral all the way down to a lame-ass conclusion. The sad part is that I'm a huge fan of Jason Lee and generally appreciate most of Tom Green's chicaneries, but even these two and their effective chemistry together, could not save this one-trick pony from drowning after an initial semi-humorous half hour set-up. The film basically plays like a sketch piece, with the one semi-interesting premise leading the two goofballs into various odd situations with even stranger people, many of whom turn out not to be as funny as you might think. Each "sketch" either works or doesn't (most don't), until we're left with one of those questionable endings in which most everyone "collides" but provides for little laughs or much sense. The whole thing basically turns very lame, unfunny and actually quite embarrassing by that point. One of the problems that I've always had with Tom Green is that he's a little "too" over-the-top sometimes (understatement of the year, I know) and the same can be said here. Don't get me wrong, I still thought that he was humorous overall, but then he'd do some lame "Tom Green" type gag (like smacking a chair into an unbreakable window over and over or the whole unfunny dog shtick...) and I'd just sigh. Jason Lee plays things cool, doing whatever he needs to do to cash his paycheck, but even he can't save this weak-ass script from itself (where's Kevin Smith when you need him!)

Does the movie stink as much as other critics would have you believe? Not in my opinion. It's got its moments, some of the one-liners are funny ("I can't take one day in jail, they'd pass be around like a bag of Oreos") and a few of the secondary characters work (like Jason Lee's trailer trash sister, Megan Mullally, who unfortunately doesn't get enough screen-time and Dennis Farina, who plays himself again, but does it oh-so well!). But at the end of the day, you just don't care about anyone, the plot gets too stupid to believe and the ending is as ridiculous as they come (oh yeah, the "gay" stuff with Richard Jenkins was also somewhat amusing). I guess I would still sorta recommend it to anyone wanting to fill an hour and a half at home when it comes out on dvd/video, but even then, it would only be if you were a real fan of the two dudes on the box cover, and even then, make sure you're pretty wasted or just finished whacking off. Also, if any of the similarly-veined "comedies" below appeal to you, this puppy may just be the butter to spread over your ripe buns. For everyone else...you've been warned. Oh and by the way, if you hate Tom Green but still insist on going to see this movie just to bitch about it afterwards...fuck you, man...you're the friggin' sadist! Phew, glad I got that off my chest.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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