The new comedy “Stealing Harvard” is funny and clever for the first ten and a half minutes, but then Tom Green is introduced to the cast. There are strong names in the cast before Tom Green comes in, such as the hilarious Jason Lee (“Mallrats”), the Chicago cop turned actor Dennis Farina (“Get Shorty”), Leslie Mann (“Big Daddy”) and Megan Mullally (TV’s “Will and Grace”). The trouble is that even with a mildly amusing script and this good cast, Green seems to be a horrible contaminated mass that slowly sours everything around him.
It begins with Jason Lee’s character, John, being in a ‘decent’ engagement with a gorgeous woman but who is just annoying. The only good thing about her character is her funny “bed-habit.” From that we are introduced to a life that this poor sap seems to be stuck in, with his future father-in-law as his boss while working at Homespital (a store for home medical supplies).
Then we meet his sex-crazed, white trash sister whose daughter is on the brink of greatness with her acceptance to Harvard, which years ago John had promised to pay for. But, conveniently, it cost $29,000 and John had just saved up $30,000 for a down payment on a house with his fianc/. And, as most should know by the previews, John goes to his best friend to find a way to quickly gather $29,000 so he doesn’t have to disappoint his fianc/.
This potentially funny film plummets when Tom Green is first on screen, but why? Oh, that’s right, Green is not funny. He is the opposite of funny. He is what I call the Anti-Humorist. So they embark on capers that are only slightly amusing. The funniest parts are from a detective that is trying to press charges against them, played by funny man, John C. McGinley from “Office Space.”
Eventually, like any movie of such a genre, things come to a head and move forward with predictable haste. Not even the great Bruce McCulloch from TV’s “Kids in the Hall,” who directs the film, could save this one.
Each performance quickly falls to the Green level. Dennis Farina, whom I love in everything else he has done, especially “Snatch,” ended up using all the clich/ antics of the un-approving father of the fianc/. Leslie Mann makes her character so annoying that one is just waiting for Jason Lee to smack her in the head and take the $30,000 out of the bank account, which proves you need more than looks to be good in film. Even Jason Lee lost his comic abilities here, so I hope his next film saves him.
I should give this film a horribly low grade for committing such atrocities in film like casting Green or Chris Penn, but because of my loyalty toward Jason Lee, I can’t fail this picture. D+. If you want something with more humor, rent anything else at Blockbuster that does not star Tom Green.
Suggestions with Jason Lee; “Mallrats,” “Almost Famous,” “Kissing a Fool,” “Dogma,” “Mumford,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Chasing Amy,” “Big Trouble.”
Suggestions with Dennis Farina; “Get Shorty,” “Snatch,” “Big Trouble,” “Out of Sight,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Another Stakeout.”