Harvard Man Review
By Christopher Null
James Toback's latest white-teens-in-trouble doesn't offer much we haven't seen in Cruel Intentions, Bully, or every one of Toback's prior films (Black and White, Two Girls and a Guy, etc., etc.). At the same time, it's a rowdy and fast-paced thrill ride that makes it hard not to enjoy.
A cast of excellent character actors doesn't hurt. Scruffy Adrian Grenier is the titular "man," a Harvard student, philosophy major, and basketball player (at what, 5'2"?), who tries to make a deal with his girlfriend's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) mobster father in order to throw the big Dartmouth game, thus ensuring a big gambling payoff so he can buy his folks a new house (theirs was conveniently whisked away by a tornado). Meanwhile, Grenier's Alan bangs his professor (Joey Lauren Adams), encounters an iffy bookie (Eric Stoltz) and his assistant (Rebecca Gayheart), all of whom might be mixed up in a group sex kinda thing. Put Alan in an LSD-infused mania for half the movie and you've got Harvard Man.
Plot-wise, the movie doesn't carry much of anything special, though it's fun to see the cast acknowledge some of its more improbable elements, such as Stoltz's character having four different accents. Gellar, Adams, Stoltz, and Grenier all turn in memorable performances, especially Grenier's near-psychosis after too much acid, running uncontrollably all over Cambridge. Only Ray Allen (as Alan's b-ball colleague) disappoints -- as usual, his line readings come off as exactly that and little more. As well, the jarring jump-around editing (within and between scenes) is annoying and induces a headache inside of 10 minutes. Stop it, people!
There's a certain niche audience that will eat up Harvard Man -- but whether that's the mob-movie set, the college-movie set, or the sex-movie set, I really have no idea.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 1st August 2001
Distributed by: Cowboy Pictures
Production compaines: Lions Gate Films, Worldwide Media
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 24
Cast & Crew
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Cindy Bandolini, Adrian Grenier as Alan Jensen, Joey Lauren Adams as Chesney Cort, Eric Stoltz as Teddy Carter, Rebecca Gayheart as Kelly Morgan, John Neville as Dr. Reese, Gianni Russo as Andrew Bandolini, Ray Allen as Marcus Blake, Michael Aparo as Russell, Scottie Epstein as Mario, Polly Shannon as Juliet, Phillip Jarrett as Coach Preston