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  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
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Stealing Harvard

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 80 mins . M15+ . PAL


Upon finally reaching their savings goal, cute as buttons couple John Plummer (Jason Lee) and Elaine Warner (Leslie Mann) are finally ready to take that crucial step in their relationship and buy a starter home. After a casual dinner with his white-trash sister Patty (Megan Mullally) and spritely niece Noreen (Tammy Blanchard), John is thrilled to learn that Noreen has been accepted into Harvard. The problem is that many years ago, in an earnest gesture of faith and confidence, John swore to Noreen and Patty that when such a thing happened he would happily fork over the cash. As a coincidence, the amount Noreen needs is almost exactly the same amount he and Elaine have stashed away for the house. John finally decides to part with his savings, but there's just one problem; Elaine has already deposited it on their first house. In an act of desperation John turns to Walter Duffy (Tom Green), a moronic childhood friend who is as incompetent at crime as he is at his home landscaping business. Together the pair hatch a series of disastrous crime capers in order to raise the money for Noreen.

You might think that the combination of Jason Lee and Tom Green would be a sure-fire laugh riot, but with Stealing Harvard this is sadly not the case. The biggest problem with this film is that, after all logical avenues have been explored, it appears to have been ghost written by a 12-year old. Now, I'm as susceptible to puerile humour as the next red-blooded manchild, but Stealing Harvard is neither too twisted to appeal to those that worship the poo-stained altar of Tom Green, nor too witty to appeal to long time Jason Lee fans. To put it simply, the film is just too damn neutral.

The payload of even the most potent jokes in Stealing Harvard would barely raise a giggle in even the most willing of viewers. It's as if they wanted the film to be imbecilic, but were too hesitant to push it into a territory that would have made it exclusive. The biggest mistake here was putting most of the humour into the hands of Tom Green. There are those that thoroughly enjoy his spaced-out delivery, but there is a bit of a problem with his presence here. Tom is a one-trick pony. His stupidity is often hypnotising, and his gross-out tactics are undeniably his best asset. Although there is plenty of stupidity on his part, it appears as though even he has been asked to tone it down to a more acceptable level. Because of this, his delivery falls flat more often than not. As for Jason Lee, he looks almost completely disillusioned for the entire length of the film and delivers lines as though he's taking a test. It's disappointing to see him in such an average performance, because if there's one person that could have made a difference here, it was him.

"Your American dream just gave you the finger!"

Though Stealing Harvard is incredibly patchy when it comes to laughs, it's actually a fairly sweet tale. Bruce McCulloch obviously had his heart in the right place while directing, and delivers a fine moral dilemma for Lee to play with. However, the inclusion of cross-dressing humour, horny dogs and last but not least, Tom Green, was a big mistake. There are precious few giggles to be had within, but even these aren’t from where most would have expected.


It's pretty rare that Columbia Tristar will deliver a disappointing transfer, and Stealing Harvard is certainly no exception. The image quality maintains a consistent level of sharpness throughout, with excellent attention to skin, clothing and environmental detail. The level of colour is also quite exceptional, with many of the vivid daylight scenes on display extremely pleasing to the eye.

Unfortunately, there is an occasional lapse in this quality, as a few scenes appear to be a tad less impressive in terms of sharpness and colour levels. This would seem to be more of a problem with the actual source material than anything else though, as the scenes in question seem to suffer more from lighting circumstances than transfer faults.

All in all, this 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is more than acceptable and right on par with Columbia Tristar's impressive efforts to date.


While it's certainly nothing spectacular, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix provided for the film is entirely appropriate. It's largely the film's pop soundtrack that makes the best use of the surrounds. It's probably best suited to a teenage audience, but is appropriately catchy throughout. The film's later action scenes are appropriately immersive, but certainly nothing to topple anything from the top ten action list. Dialogue levels are pretty much perfect, with no glitches or any other audible problems. Like the video transfer, this is a good quality audio presentation that won't astound, but is perfectly suited to the subject material.


Anyone hoping for comments from Tom Green or Jason Lee will be severely disappointed with the extras on offer here. The only real feature is a collection of deleted scenes. The quality of these is pretty poor, but it doesn't mean that they're any less amusing, because that isn't the case in the first place. On top of this, the stock standard filmographies text has been included as well as a collection of trailers for Stealing Harvard, xXx, The New Guy and Maid in Manhattan.


Unfortunately, Stealing Harvard misfires more often than the usual American comedy fare. Still, if you're willing to completely switch off for 80 minutes, you should at least enjoy the nicer aspects of the story.

The good news is that, although extras-light, Stealing Harvard comes complete with top-notch video and audio transfers.

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      And I quote...
    "...if you're willing to completely switch off for 80 minutes, you should at least enjoy the nicer aspects of the story."
    - Ben Pollock
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Omni SL-P2000KD
    • TV:
          Palsonic 71cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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