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Published on June 1st, 2008 | by simeon

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Stealing Harvard

Being able to afford a home is a daunting task that sends chills into the veins of many couples that are contemplating this step. The all important down payment is the first step towards being able to finance the home, but many young couples are not able to come up with the thousands of dollars needed to make their dreams a reality?
For every rule there are exceptions, as is the case of John (Jason Lee) and Elaine (Leslie Mann), a happy couple who have vowed to wait on their marriage until they have saved 30,00 for their dream home. John has been working hard at a medical supplies store under the watchful and hate-filled gaze of Elaine’s father (Dennis Farina), while Elaine tools away with her designer gift basket business.

Eventually the happy day arrives when the couple realizes they have reached their goal of $30,000 saved and start to finalize their plans. Ah, but into every life some rain must fall, and fall it does in the guise of a long forgotten promise made by John to his niece that he would pay for her college should she ever get into one. John’s wild child sister caught the promise on video, and being the responsible member of the family in the wake of their parent’s death, John intends to honor his word, even though it will cost him $29,000 and anger Elaine.

Convinced, he can take care of both debts but unable to gather money from family and legit sources, John is forced to turn to his buddy Duff (Tom Green), who is a gardener by trade and a general misfit despite his good intentions. Duff convinces John that a short-term life of crime may be the answer, and the two embark on several schemes to collect the money. Naturally things do not go as planned and John soon finds his comfy little world turned upside down as he tries to do the right thing by Elaine and his niece.

“Stealing Harvard” is a nice concept that is largely a hit at miss picture. Lee and Green work well with one another, yet Mann is not in the film enough as her presence lights up the scenes she is in despite being given little in her role to work with. The same holds true for Farina who basically plays upon his screen image but shows little reason for his actions and his dislike of John. For the most part, Green is restrained and it makes the film enjoyable as I have always found his work to be better in ensemble casts rather than with him as the featured star, yet the laughs are mainly hit and miss. There were a few funny moments in the film, but mostly the film unrolls as a pleasant narrative with few surprises. I think the film will be a fantastic rental but not something that I would want to pay the price of a movie ticket for, as there were not enough laughs for a scenario that was ripe with potential yet took the easy out in many situations. My advice, wait for the tape, sit back, and enjoy it at home.

2.5 stars out of 5


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