Stealing Harvard

2002, Movie, PG-13, 83 mins


Two idiots embark on a life of crime to help a deserving teenager attend Harvard in this lowbrow, if relatively sweet-natured, comedy. Nice-guy John Plummer (Jason Lee) once off-handedly promised little Noreen (Tammy Blanchard), the daughter of his white-trash tramp sister (Megan Mullally), that if she ever got accepted to Harvard he'd pay her tuition. Some 10 years later, the unthinkable has come to pass: Noreen has studied hard, stuck to the straight and narrow and made herself into Ivy League material. With her own savings and financial aid, all she needs is $30,000. The trouble isn't that John doesn't have $30,000. The trouble is, it's all he has, and it's earmarked for the house he and his uptight fiancée, Elaine (Leslie Mann), are about to buy. Unable to face disappointing either Noreen or Elaine, John turns to his moronic friend Duff (Tom Green) for help, and Duff gets the two of them involved in burglary, armed robbery and abetting known felons. None of these hairbrained crimes nets them one red cent, but it brings them to the attention of mean Detective Charles (John C. McGinley, reprising the verbal-bully schtick he developed for TV's Scrubs), who's determined to throw them both in jail. And whenever nothing else is going wrong, John can count on pissing off Elaine's overprotective dad (Dennis Farina), who's also John's boss and doesn't believe for one minute that John's good enough for his little girl. With the exception of an attenuated gag involving a crotch-sniffing/everything-humping dog, the film's sense of humor is fairly clean, though Lee, Green and Farina all wind up wearing a dowdy house dress and a blond wig under circumstances too convoluted to explain. Chris Penn and Seymour Cassell appear briefly in roles that are little more than one-scene cameos, and Mullally makes the most of her small part as Lee's slutty sister, who's essentially the kinder, gentler version of the alcoholic gold digger Mullally plays on TV's Will and Grace, with hot pants. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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