With Honors (1994) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language
Running Time: 103 min.
Cast: Joe Pesci, Brendan Fraser, Moira Kelly, Patrick Dempsey, Josh Hamilton, Gore Vidal
Director: Alek Keshishian
Screenplay: William Mastrosimone
Review published March 28, 1999
With Honors is a comedy dealing with a Harvard law student (Fraser, The Scout) whose academic career seems bleak when his computer crashes, deleting his hard drive, and along with it, his thesis that he had spent nine months working on. To make matters worse, he loses the one and only hard copy he made of it when it ends up in the hands of a homeless man (Pesci, Jimmy Hollywood) in the basement of one of Harvard's buildings. The homeless man is reluctant to give him the paper, instead opting to use each sheet of it to bargain for food and a place to stay. The student gives in out of desperation, setting him up at his house, but his roommates aren't exactly thrilled at having to deal with him and his attitudes.
As likeable as the cast may seem, With Honors is, unfortunately, a wholly contrived and predictable film that wastes the time and talent of all involved. There's not a moment of surprise that can be derived from this story you've seen done many times before, and usually to better success. The film isn't all horrible, as the lightness of the material and ever pleasant tone at least makes it all bearable. However, Joe Pesci is the wrong person for the role, delivering one of his worst performances as the homeless man with wisdom to spare. With HonorsS is a formula feel-good film that is to movies what easy listening is to music.
©1999 Vince Leo