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Harvard Man /

Rated: R

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Adrian Grenier, Rebecca Gayheart, Joey Lauren Adams, Eric Stoltz

Directed by: James Toback 

Produced by: Daniel Bigel, Michael Mailer, Ron Rotholz 

Written by: James Toback 

Distributor: Cowboy Pictures


Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

     Harvard Man is enticing because of the way it’s made. It doesn’t want to be masterful, it wants to give us what we want, and get away with it; and because of this it is admirable. The first scene opens up to a screen split into four boxes, two of them occupy the cast and crew credits. The other two are videos of two things that guys and their buddies will devour; sex and basketball. We see Sarah Michelle Gellar, one of Hollywood’s sexiest ladies, fully embraced in anal sex with Adrian Grenier. This is all going on while the Harvard basketball team suits up, without him, and runs a few drills. I’m not sure that the female half of the population will take Harvard Man as well as the guys; but it is entertaining for both sexes, each in a different way. It is a warm and welcoming affair that is nothing but a tribute to independent filmmakers everywhere.

     The story is about exactly what the title describes, a Harvard Man. Alan Jense (Adrian Grenier) is a philosophy student at Harvard. When his parents home is destroyed by a tornado, and they have nowhere to go, and he must quickly earn $100,000 to buy them a house. This money is not only to help them, but to gain their approval. He figures that the best way to get it is to ask his girlfriend, Cindy Bandolini (Sarah Michelle Gellar), for the money. Her father, who she disguises as a Real Estate Agent, is really the leader of the American mafia. He has the money, but she needs to find a way to get it from him, with no harm done. He tells her that he will give Alan the money if he performs a simple favor for him. This isn’t a “mob” type favor, but rather one that will earn Cindy’s father more money than he is giving to Alan.

      Alan is the point-guard for the Harvard basketball team, which hasn’t won a single game during the current season. The deal is being made the day before a huge game for the basketball team. The next day, they will be playing a team that is actually worse than them, who will be an easy win. Everyone has their money on Harvard to win. If Alan can fix the game so Harvard loses, than Cindy and her father will be able to rack in a hell of a lot of dough through sports bets. All Alan has to do is make sure that Harvard loses, or wins by less than 7 points, and he will get the money to buy his parents a house. No problems, no questions asked. It might sound easy; but it won’t be.

     The direction and production stay within the strict guidelines of the independent style. The cuts are shaky, but intriguing, the clip’s transitions are done interestingly, in a very bizarre way, with the utmost taste, and the actors and actresses are positioned in the scene with delicate care (including the many involving sex). The shots of basketball games are handled with skillful technique, and this makes them work in their own unique way. Many critics call them: “unrealistic” and “superficial,” but they reflect how real Ivy League schools play the game – badly. There is comedy, and satire which fits in very well with the several absurdities of the premise. There isn’t one way that the material should be taken, and this is how the filmmakers want it to be. Haravard Man actually has a sense of style, and knows where it wants to go, and this has become rare among films today. Everything is textbook, but this helps it quite a bit, if all of the basics are in tact, I will always recommend it.

     Harvard Man excels above average, and is an entertaining and enjoyable experience. It may not be nominated for any Oscars, but I could definitely see it as a nominee for “Best Original Screenplay” or “Best Art Direction.” Gellar is sexy, and Grenier is believable. There is a definite amount of wisdom and wit that goes into its edgy approach at uncanny filmmaking, and it works. For a great time, and an intelligent look at independent filmmaking, Harvard Man is one of my top picks.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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