Stealing Harvard
1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
honorable intentions, criminal methods This film tries so hard to be both charming and disgusting that it's almost painful to watch. Even a few gifted cast members can't salvage it. The story centres on John (Lee), whose perky fiancee Elaine (Mann) has just saved enough money to buy their first house together. Then John's trailer-trash sister (Mullally) reminds him that years ago he promised his niece (Blanchard) that he'd pay for her university if she worked hard in school. Well, she did. And she got into Harvard. And now John has to find $30,000 for her tuition. Unable to take the money from Elaine, he turns to his old friend Duff (Green) for help, and they embark on a series of ludicrous criminal capers.

At first, story is quite bright and fresh. Lee is always watchable, Mann is horribly screechy but manages to make the character at least human, and Mullally as usual steals the show. There are also twitchy comic side roles for the gifted Farina, Jenkins, Penn and McGinley. Then Green enters the picture and it grinds to a halt, launching a series of dreadfully unfunny set pieces and random gags that become increasingly annoying. It's not clever or interesting or sweet or even remotely humorous, obviously trying to be There's Something About Mary and failing at every turn. Then in the final third there is actually some surprising depth when Mann and Mullally, especially, get to do something interesting. It's far too corny and contrived to be remotely entertaining, but if you're stuck in the cinema watching this rubbish, at least there are some tiny rewards if you look hard enough.

cert 12 themes, vulgarity, language 12.Feb.03

dir Bruce McCulloch
scr Peter Tolan
with Jason Lee, Tom Green, Leslie Mann, Megan Mullally, Dennis Farina, Tammy Blanchard, Richard Jenkins, Chris Penn, John C McGinley, Seymour Cassel, Mary Gillis, Bruce McCulloch
release US 13.Sep.02; UK 21.Mar.03
02/US 1h22

It's a gift. Elaine, John and Duff try to get along (Mann, Lee and Green)...

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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall