Harold Movie Review

Late in the inept comedy Harold, the title character (Spencer Breslin) arrives at a friend's house, and the pal's father comes to the front door. A close-up lingers on the dad as if to say "Check it out, a really fun cameo!" The only problem is we have no idea who this actor is. And that's because he's not an actor -- he's the director's brother. If you think putting an unknown sibling in a movie is funny, stick around.

Despite Harold being remarkably amateurish, the concept is there, as you'd expect from a long-time Saturday Night Live veteran like director/co-writer T. Sean Shannon. A teenage kid named Harold has a bizarre case of early baldness and an attitude to match. He dresses horribly, walks with a hunched, old-man shuffle, and loves Murder, She Wrote. He's a cranky version of 14 Going on 74.

When his mother (a useless Ally Sheedy) moves the family to a nearby town, Harold beomes the focus of ridicule at his new school. Cuba Gooding Jr., a rare bright spot in the film, plays the well-meaning school janitor who takes a liking to dippy Harold and becomes one of his few friends.

The rough draft screenplay for Harold must have said "hijinks ensue" a lot. Harold's troubles and escapades play like they were developed by a bunch of kids Harold's age. Harold is pummeled playing dodgeball in gym class. Harold is chased by his horny senior-citizen neighbor. Harold gets ready for the big go-kart race. Yes, the final act includes a lifeless go-kart race, a sequence that lives somewhere between a middle-school film class version of Breaking Away and a Little Rascals episode.

Harold is filled with competent actors -- Gooding, Sheedy, Chris Parnell, celluloid sunshine Nikki Blonsky, to name a few -- but nearly every scene screams novice filmmaker. Harold confidently struts along, seemingly unaware of its lackluster script and distinct lack of professionalism.

And I'm not sure Breslin is the right choice for the lead role. The young man is certainly self-assured, but the majority of his lines sound like they're coming from a precocious know-it-all letting it all hang out at an audition.

If there's one thing Harold wears well, it's innocence. For goodness' sake, even the strippers in the movie wear bikini tops. If Shannon and co-writer Greg Fields (who hadn't written a produced film in ten years) could have played up that angle more effectively, Harold would have some hope. Instead, we're stuck with telegraphed laughs, if any. By the way, in an interview Shannon confesses the idea came from a family get-together where two younger kids were left with baldness patterns as a prank. Yikes, this just gets worse and worse.

Cast & Crew

Director : T. Sean Shannon

Producer : , Morris S. Levy, , Jason Shuman


Harold Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, 2008


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