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The success of “The Social Network” has brought to light a completely underexploited niche in popular film: the Harvard drama. But one movie is surely insufficient to quell the clamor of the masses for cinematic offerings featuring faux reconstructions of key Cambridge landmarks and stereotyped portrayals of East Coast elitists. Luckily, there are still many compelling campus storylines that have yet to be explored and fictionalized beyond all recognition. I offer them here for the benefit of studios seeking to capitalize on this exciting new market.
5. 1500 Days of Summers
The tragic story of the rise and fall of Harvard’s 27th President (sympathetically portrayed by Tom Hanks), who is undone by hubris, a bad speechwriter, and many conspiring enemies. Writer-director Oliver Stone (“JFK,” “Nixon,” “W.”) implicates the Cambridge City Council, Noam Chomsky, and the Spare Change guy (Forest Whitaker) in the plot. Cornel West cameos and wins Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. No female characters.
4. The Talented Mr. Wheeler
Leonardo DiCaprio (“Catch Me If You Can”) plays Harvard’s most famous and favorite fraud as he insinuates himself into campus life. Audiences follow Wheeler as he impersonates an English concentrator, a HUHDS chef and a Harvard administrator, endeavors which—in a surprising twist—turn out to be not that hard to pull off. Will Smith and Zoe Saldana round out a culturally diverse student body.
3. The Lamonster: Primal Scream
Is that someone hiding in the stacks or… some thing? Why are so many sophomore girls going missing after visiting the moving bookshelves in the basement? And who’s that guy wearing a Drew Faust mask in the Woodberry Poetry Room—and why does he have a chainsaw? Sarah Michelle Gellar tries to find out the answers to these troubling questions in this instant cult classic, directed by Wes Craven. Many, many sequels planned.
2. Hauser, Ph.D.
A television miniseries about the unraveling life of a seemingly perfect professor (Tom Cruise) whose charming veneer conceals a darker side. Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”) co-stars as Hauser’s jilted grad student lover who ultimately exposes him, in a minor deviation from the historical record aimed at attracting the teen demographic. Particularly impressive CGI lab monkey (Eddie Izzard) earns Emmy for Special Visual Effects.
1. Work, Actually
A documentary about what really goes on at Harvard, narrated by President Drew G. Faust. Despite many artistic shortcomings (e.g. being produced by the registrar), the film nonetheless turns a significant profit and wins the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature due to its crossing of the so-called “West Wing Threshold”—the narrative point after which audiences are sure they just saw something important, even though they have no idea what it was.
—Yair Rosenberg is the incoming Movies Editor. He can be reached through his agent.
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