Flunking out

Stealing Harvard
Rated R
Opening tomorrow in area theaters
0 reels out of 4 (and I’m being nice)

I’ve never been much of a sports fan, but when the NCAA tournament was at the Spectrum in the early ’90s, I decided to go. I’m glad I went because I saw Duke play Kentucky in what many say was one of the greatest college hoops games of all time.

I must lead some sort of charmed life because I recently was witness to history once again. I just saw Stealing Harvard and I can say without hesitation that it is one of the worst movies of all time.

Jason Lee plays John Plummer, a man with a problem. Many years ago, he made a promise to his niece after a crushing spelling-bee defeat that if she got into college, he would pay for it. Problem is, he never thought she’d remember. Now she’s been accepted to Harvard and it’s time for Uncle to deliver.

John enlists the help of his best friend Duff (Tom Green) to gather the $29,000 needed to keep his solemn vow.

I hate to resort to hack humor, but what goes around comes around. I sincerely doubt there was a fully formed screenplay here. I have to believe that after the basic story was formed, the words "Just make stuff up, guys" were written on page two.

And while we’re on the subject of bad movies, Stealing Harvard makes Plan 9 From Outer Space — which is often mentioned as the worst movie of all time — look like Citizen Kane by comparison. But at least Ed Wood, the director of Plan 9, was giving his all. I don’t see a lot of earnest effort here. It’s almost as if they really didn’t care if it stunk. "Let’s get this done and move on" was, I believe, the motto of the filmmakers.

Those familiar with the work, and I use the word loosely, of master thespian Tom Green might imagine that what ultimately sinks Stealing Harvard is a plethora of tasteless jokes and even more offensive sight gags. I wish. The few bright spots in the movie are of that variety, but there simply aren’t enough. Unfortunately, most of the movie is either stupid or boring, often both.

It’s your money, but may I suggest a better use of your time? Next time you want to inflict pain on yourself, jump off your porch in a pair of shorts and land on your knees. It might hurt, but not as much as sitting through Stealing Harvard.

Recommended rental

Kissing Jessica Stein
Rated R
Available Tuesday

Quite possibly the movie Woody Allen would have made if he were female and bisexual, Kissing Jessica Stein is both an honest look at female sexual identity and a great New York movie. Jennifer Westfeldt plays Jessica Stein, a smart, hip, single New York professional who is looking for her soulmate in the personals. When the most interesting ad turns out to be written by a woman (who initially does not reveal her gender), Jessica decides to experiment and starts going out with her. This is a charming and witty film that entertains without being too fluffy and enlightens without being preachy.