Stealing Harvard

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Stealing Harvard
Stealing harvard.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Bruce McCulloch
Produced by Susan Cavan
Written by Martin Hynes
Peter Tolan
Starring Jason Lee
Tom Green
Leslie Mann
Dennis Farina
Richard Jenkins
John C. McGinley
Tammy Blanchard
Megan Mullally
Narrated by Jason Lee
Music by Christophe Beck
Cinematography Ueli Steiger
Edited by Malcolm Campbell
Production
  company
Revolution Studios
Imagine Entertainment
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) September 13, 2002 (2002-09-13)
Running time 85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $14,277,032

Stealing Harvard is a 2002 crime comedy film directed by Canadian filmmaker Bruce McCulloch, about a man who resorts to crime to pay for his niece's Harvard tuition.

The film stars Jason Lee and Tom Green. Co-starring are Leslie Mann, Dennis Farina, Richard Jenkins, John C. McGinley, Tammy Blanchard, and Megan Mullally. Director Bruce McCulloch has a cameo appearance in the film as well, as John's lawyer in the courtroom scene.

The film centers around the misfortunate crime sprees of John (Lee) and Duff (Green). The different subplots involve John's family, his girlfriend and her father, a gun-toting judge and a dog with a love interest for Duff.

Tom Green was nominated for Worst Supporting Actor for this movie in the 2002 Golden Raspberry Awards.

Plot[edit]

Nice guy John Plummer (Jason Lee) is engaged to ditsy Elaine (Leslie Mann), and intends to use his life savings of $30,000 to put a down payment on a house because he does not want to accept money from her wealthy father, Mr. Warner (Dennis Farina), who is also John's employer and who already considers John unworthy of his daughter. Warner also has a mean dog named Rex who hates John and always agrees with his master. Simultaneously, his niece Noreen (Tammy Blanchard), daughter of John's "trailer trash" sister, Patty (Megan Mullally), is accepted to Harvard University, but needs an additional $30,000 on top of her grants and scholarships in order to attend. Noreen shows her uncle John a videotape made many years ago, at which time he promised to pay for Noreen's college education when the time came if she were to work hard and be accepted to a university. John now has a moral and financial dilemma – disappoint his fiancée and prove her father right by showing that he cannot provide for Elaine, or disappoint his niece, sister, and her friends, who all look up to him, and take away his niece's only chance to escape from a life of lower-class poverty.

John confides the situation to his best friend from high school, eccentric loser Walter "Duff" Duffy (Tom Green). Duff, a landscaper, convinces John to steal from one of his rich landscaping clients, who keeps large amounts of cash in an unlocked safe. The pair set off to steal the cash, but Duff runs away when lights come on in the home, leaving John staring down the barrel of the homeowner, the Honorable Emmett Cook (Richard Jenkins)'s gun. Cook forces John to cross-dress and role-play the part of Cook's late wife as the two men lie in bed and "spoon". Eventually, after taking an incriminating photograph of John, one of many identical photos Cook keeps in an album, Cook releases him. As he is leaving, Mr. Warner and his dog are riding by, and takes note of John's panicked behavior, believing that he has caught John in an affair which will be evidence he can use to persuade his daughter to call off the wedding.

Further capers ensue as John and Duff try to rob a liquor store and later attempt to con a drug lord out of $30,000 by concocting a phony story about running an ecstasy ring. A police detective (John C. McGinley) is on to John and Duff, but never has enough evidence to actually pin any of the crimes on them. Meanwhile, Mr. Warner breaks into Cook's residence in order to get evidence against John, and once Cook catches him, he is forced to "spoon" as well. Before leaving, Warner finds the photo of John from the album, which he then gives to Elaine.

John is forced to confess everything to Elaine. Not only is she not upset with John, but she now respects and admires him far more for the lengths he was willing to go to in order to provide for her, spare her feelings and send his niece to Harvard. Elaine then confides in John that her wealthy father keeps a great deal of money at his business, and that it would be easy for them to steal it. John, Elaine, and Duff set out to rob the business in the night. Unfortunately, Mr. Warner had hid his dog Rex inside the vault. Rex attempts to attack Duff by biting him in the crotch but Rex is instead aroused and does not let go. Just as John and Elaine find the money, Mr. Warner finds them and tries to attack them but he is caught by the detective who mistakes him for a burglar. John and Elaine escape to Duff's van but Duff is still being chased by Rex and has to jump inside the van. The police arrive and the gang unsuccessfully tries to get away. They are all taken into custody by the detective and facing a series of charges including breaking and entering and animal cruelty. John feels like his goose is cooked, until the judge in charge of his arraignment turns out to be the gun-toting Emmett Cook.

Upon their mutual recognition, John writes, in his lawyer's notebook, a message to Cook and flashes it across the court, threatening to expose the judge's fetish; upon reading the makeshift sign, Cook quickly dismisses all charges against John. Finally, Duff comes through as best he can and gives John his life savings, $1,000, which John bets on a longshot horse which wins and which paid 30 to 1. John and Elaine are married with Mr. Warner, Patty, Emmett Cook, and Duff among their wedding guests, Noreen goes off to college, and, in the final scene, John is left to ponder how loser Duff could possibly accumulate $1,000 – the last scene shows Duff offering to "spoon" with Cook for $1,000.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

Stealing Harvard received negative reviews from critics. It currently holds a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 103 reviews with the consensus: "There are some laughs in Stealing Harvard, but they are few and far between, and Tom Green's antics grow old fast."

Box office[edit]

Released September 13, 2002 the film grossed US$14,036,406 at the U.S. box office.[2]

References[edit]

External links[edit]