Stealing Harvard -- **1/2 (out of 5) (2002)
Cast: Jason Lee, Tom Green, Leslie Mann, Megan Mullally, Dennis Farina, Tammy Blanchard
Directed By Bruce McCulloch
Directed by Kids in the Hall alum, Bruce McCulloch, and starring comic actors Jason Lee and Tom Green, you probably expect STEALING HARVARD to be dumb fun, and for the most part it is. It just is never good dumb fun. Thankfully, this isn't quite the gross-out comedy you probably expect from Tom Green, who will probably disappoint everyone here, since he isn't very funny for people who aren't fans, and he delivers none of the raunch those who are expect.
Jason Lee stars as John Plummer, finally fulfilling a dream of getting married to his beloved Elaine, who opted to wait until they saved a nice nest egg of $30,000 to put a down payment for a new house. As they make preparations, John's sister, Patty, gives him the good news that his favorite niece has been accepted to Harvard, inspired by his kind words, and a promise John made many years back that if she were accepted to college, he'd be willing to pay the expenses. She can pay all expenses except some, which turns out to be...you guessed it, $30,000. Now John is faced with having to upset his fiancee or his niece in a major way, but in a bout of serious stagnation, he decides he might be able to steal the money and avoid the displeasure of one of the women he holds most dear, with the help of his buddy, Duff.
There isn't much in the way of intellectual stimulation from the script, and the film never aims very high, instead shooting for the audience that Adam Sandler generally hits, namely young, white males who enjoy a film with slapstick and quirky characterizations. Fans of Jason Lee get to enjoy seeing him do what he does best, whining loudly, although what's funny in a colorful supporting character wears thin when placed at the center of a film. Speaking of supporting characters, Tom Green's take on the stoned-out Seventies' gardener is just not funny enough, and sometimes the forced injection of humor into the character makes for some of the film's worst moments.
STEALING HARVARD isn't likely to please very many viewers out there, so curb your expectations if you're going to give it a shot. This isn't the worst comedy, but it sure could have used more script development and funny bits to make this worth our time. Yes, it's another sitcom plot stretched to full-feature length, with about as many laughs. Don't be fooled by the Ivy league title, this is Bush league material all of the way.
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