Movie Review: Stealing Harvard

By Erik Petersen
Movie Magazine International
“Stealing Harvard” stars Jason Lee as John, a lovable dope who’s joined by his best friend Duff, played by Tom Green. John made a promise to pay for his niece’s college and now that she’s been accepted to Harvard he has to come up with thirty large, pronto. So together the moron twins decide to embark on a crime spree, with predictable results.

I’ve always been a fan of Jason Lee since his debut in “Mall Rats.” With his professional skateboarding background and roster of largely off beat movie roles he’s a unique leading man. What he lacks in thespian training he makes up for with charisma and honesty. Despite the total lack of believability inherent in the premise he almost makes you believe in him.

Leslie Mann stars as Elaine, John’s fiancee. She runs a gift basket business and wants to use their joint savings to buy a home and settle down. Outwardly sweet, conservative and perhaps a bit naïve she’s daddy’s girl. Daddy is played by Dennis Farina. An egotistical jerk, he runs a hospital supply company and employs John, largely so he can keep him under his thumb.

The director, Bruce McCulloch is best known for his work with the Canadian comedy troupe “Kids In the Hall.” He certainly knows his comedy and perhaps it’s his and Tom Green’s mutual Canadian heritage that makes their teaming work so well.

By far the best thing about “Stealing Harvard” is Tom Green. He’s so outrageous, so completely out of his head that he’s absolutely hilarious. His landscaping business is essentially vandalism for profit. His room is decorated like an Oklahoma truck stop, circa 1978 and the van he drives has “M’ Lady” airbrushed on the side. To make some extra cash he sells beer to minors via a business he calls “Dial-a-beer.” In short he’s a comic genius.

What the movie lacks in a plot and decent writing it more than makes up for it with immature pranks and jokes that are repeated ad infinitum. After all, we know the duos robberies are bound to fail, with each a bigger debacle than the previous one. Despite knowing what’s coming I found myself laughing.

The charm lies mostly in Tom Green’s antics. It’s his complete and utter unwillingness to ever play it straight. No matter how far down the path they get he stubbornly clings to his belief system. He’s pathological and that’s funny and ultimately endearing. While Mr. Lee has the thankless role of the straight man Mr. Green gets all the laughs.

It would probably be irresponsible of me to recommend paying ten bucks to see “Stealing Harvard.” Let’s just say that if you come across it one night on cable, or better yet a friend loans you the DVD you could do worse things with your ninety minutes. I’m Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
More Information:
Stealing Harvard
USA - 2002