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Rated 2.98 stars
by 1276 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Stolen Time
by Betty Jo Tucker

I love movies Ė good movies, mediocre movies, even some bad movies. But thereís a limit, and Stealing Harvard exceeded it with flying colors. Okay, I admit being prejudiced against Tom Green. I canít remember ever laughing at any of his antics on the big screen. Still, I expected Jason Lee, Greenís talented co-star, to make up for his partnerís shortcomings. Instead, Lee sinks to Greenís level in this stilted comedy about two bunglers trying to steal enough money to help a young girl attend Harvard. Despite their pathetic criminal efforts, this undynamic duo did succeed in robbing me of 82 valuable minutes Iíll never get back.

Hereís the big dilemma facing John Plummer (Lee). He and his fianceť Elaine (Leslie Mann) plan to use their $30,000 savings as a down payment on a house so they can finally get married. But Johnís sister (Megan Mullally) reminds him of his long-ago promise to pay for her daughterís college education. And his niece (Tammy Blanchard) needs, you guessed it, $29,000 for her first-year Harvard tuition. Before John can explain the situation to Elaine, she makes an offer on a house, and all the money goes into escrow. Whatís an uncle to do? Call Duff (Green), his "think-out-of-the-box" friend, of course.

After trying to follow Duffís advice, John gets arrested. But not before this inept pair engage in ridiculous misadventures involving an overprotective father (Dennis Farina), a quirky widower (Richard Jenkins), a frustrated detective (John C. McGinley), a violent thug (Chris Penn), and a horny dog. Only McGinley (from t.v.ís "Scrubs"), with his bi-polar delivery style, managed to evoke laughter from me. In a very funny performance, heís "good cop, bad cop" all by himself.

Green and Lee should take lessons in comedy from McGinley. Even in this genre, no matter how farfetched the story, characters must be believable. Greenís Duff never once seemed convincing to me. Whether babbling while trimming a hedge, attempting to crash through a window, falling off a roof, or using a toy gun for a robbery, Green displays a serious lack of comic timing skills. Nevertheless, Iím relieved he didnít swallow a rodent in this flick (remember Road Trip?). And Lee, so watchable in Almost Famous, projects a lethargy that seemed appropriate for his laid-back "Puggy" in Big Trouble, but not for John Plummer.

The questionable message of Stealing Harvard also troubles me. Although the main characters have good intentions, they resort to crime in order to accomplish their goal. The end justifies the means in their eyes. Did they decide to reform? Maybe, but Iíve received no apology for the time they stole from me.

(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated "PG-13" for crude and sexual humor, language, and drug references.)

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