Celluloid School Spirit

If walking across the river to cheer on the football team presents insurmountable difficulties this fall, a stroll to Hollywood
By Scoop A. Wasserstein

If walking across the river to cheer on the football team presents insurmountable difficulties this fall, a stroll to Hollywood Express is a more sedentary way to beam (or cringe) with Crimson pride. Most people know the good-natured commercial cheesiness of Good Will Hunting and Legally Blonde, but many of the other Harvard based movies are obscure or, like the first pick listed below, only suitable for a very specialized niche.

For People Trying to Express Their Vulnerability to Get Some Play.

Love Story (1970). Starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw.

I could recap the intricacies of this fluff, but we all know what happens. Guy meets girl, slowly falls in love with girl, becomes successful with emotional support of girl and then girl gets fatal disease and dies.

Come on, you all saw it in the science center during freshman week. You know that it’s not the filmmaking that makes this film. Hell, everyone tears up. We care about the dead chick. This will put you back in touch with your emotions, leaving you with a permanently developed connection with your fellow movie-goers. Chances are the screening will end with your own private Love Story.

For People Looking For a Bad Yet Interesting Date Movie

Stealing Harvard (2002). Starring Jason Lee and Tom Green.

This movie is just not good. It has low production values. The movie’s “plot,” such as it is, features a good hearted guy, played by Lee, resorting to crime in order to pay for his niece’s college education. It is meant to be heartwarming, I think, but it just comes across as sad. Green, playing Lee’s endearing intellectually deficient (although that may be his natural level of discourse) best friend is no longer charmingly incorrigible. He just seems like he’s trying much too hard to prove he’s still relevant in the age of “Jackass” and he fails miserably. This movie is a failure on every level, except for the inspired casting of Seymore Cassel as Tom Green’s rich uncle, who plays the role with an inspired wacky pizzazz. It is the Christopher Walken cameo of C-grade movie-making.

For People Trying to Convince Their Friends That Marijuana Use Is Beneficial

How High (2001). Starring Method Man and Redman.

In this Harvard-themed offspring of the Cheech and Chong oeuvres, Method Man and Redman play slackers whose smart best friend is unexpectedly killed. They end up smoking his ashes, an act that recreates his spirit. He then guides them through the college entrance exams so exceptionally that they end up at Harvard. Once they arrive, THC-infused hilarity occurs. Pass this pipe to a deserving friend and let the good times roll.

For People Trying to Convince Their Friends That Drug Use Is Dangerous and for People Getting Over a Bad Woman

Harvard Man (2001). Starring Adrian Grenier and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Directed by James Toback ’66, this is meant to be an examination of contemporary college life infused with compelling suspense, intellectually stimulating philosophy and intriguing plot surprises. Too bad it sucks.

Gellar, playing a mob daughter/ BC cheerleader, gets Granier, the star of the Harvard Basketball team, involved in sports betting connected to her father’s shady business. The dangerous drug use is based on Toback’s own experience.

For Fans of Lou Reed’s “I Wanna Be Black.”

Soul Man (1986). Starring C. Thomas Howell and James Earl Jones.

Mark Watson, Howell, discovers that the only scholarship left to Harvard is for black students. In order to get the scholarship, he paints his face a dark shade of khaki. He gets the scholarship, forcing him to go to Harvard as an African American. Soon, he meets and falls for a black girl. Racial misunderstandings lead to meaningful hilarity! In one memorable scene, Professor Banks, played by Jones, calls for Mark Watson, to which Howell responds “Right on.” Oh, well, then, he must be black! It is essentially the opposite of Eddie Murphy’s “Mr. White” skit on Saturday Night Live, except not as funny.

For People Looking For a Good Yet Interesting Date Movie

The Paper Chase (1973). Timothy Bottoms and Lindsay Wagner.

If you think it’s tough to deal with all the smarter-then-thou arrogant bastards at Harvard College, well, it just gets worse at Harvard Law School, as shown by this semi-classic flick. Timothy Bottoms, recently of “That’s My Bush,” goes to Harvard law school and meets troop after troop of ridiculous-if-you’ve-never-been here caricatures, including “Contracts Law” Professor Kingsfield and his beautiful daughter Susan, played by Wagner. He falls in love with the daughter and learns to tackle the demanding class, with constant humorous interludes involving Harvard weirdo-filled study groups. Although it sounds pretty dumb in theory, the strong performances create a strongly watchable law based adventure/love story.