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  • kschwar6110 June 2006
    This movie had so many chances to be comedic, dramatic and even interesting, but just failed on so many levels. In some instances the actors were so "acting" that it was just unbelievable. Nothing good here. Joey Lauren Adams is just good to listen to because she is a bit sexy. Hell it is so bad that I just saw the end and I can't remember how it ended... I had to make this comment at least 10 lines for it to be posted. Now, you have to know that I am just writing to get it posted. This is how bad this movie was. If you get stoned or do some LSD, it just might be your cup of tea. If you have the brain power to dissect the movie. Even then, don't expect too much.
  • Spanner-211 July 2002
    This low budget offering from disturbed filmmaker James Toback ("Black and White") features Adrian Grenier as a Harvard University basketball player in money trouble who is conned by his shaddy girlfriend (Sarah Michelle Gellar (playing a rif on her "Cruel Intentions" role) to throw a basketball game for money. Add in subplots about the mob, a couple of shaddy FBI agents (including a weird performance by Eric Stoltz), a teacher he has an affair with (Joey Lauren Adams) and a bizare drug trip segment and you have.. a typical Toback picture.. Still, the performances, especialy by relative newcommer Grenier are excellent and the story is weird enough to keep you fascinated.. Not for all tastes due to its subject matter but a good film. GRADE: B
  • I have seen " HARVARD MAN " for the first time on dvd and i think it is a notable failure with a great cast.

    James Toback is a good director but this is not one of his best films simply it is poorly written and directed and it gives the cast nothing to do whatsoever.

    Adam Greiner is ok if a little wooden but he gets completely out acted by the utterly gorgeous and totally wonderfull Sarah Michelle Gellar as the nasty and calculated Cindy.

    The rest of the cast...Rebecca Gayheart,Ray Allen and,good to see him in a movie after all these years,Eric Stoltz are excellent but as i have said they are not given much to do.

    So in short...notable failure that could have been good.
  • conace2112 July 2003
    The beginning of this movie is weak, and overly simplistic, especially the early scenes with the Cindy's father. The most amusing part is the fling in the forest, where Sarah Michelle Gellar's sexiness is notable. However, it gets better. You feel the guy's confusion in his head, his mindset, and the overall suspense picks up. The biggest disappointment is it ends abruptly. The plot could have been carried on even further, I believe.
  • NIKITIN-126 January 2007
    If I were to express my true views of this film, it would not be allowed on the internet. Totally egregious, a travesty, a cinematic endeavour that has successfully set humanity back at least 30 years. I just can't understand what possibly possessed this guy to make this film, let alone for Buffy to star in it. Not to mention its racism. Evidently, black people don't go to harvard, but if they do, rest assured that they play basketball and carry guns!Besides the only two blacks in the film were a gun toting roommate and a nymphomaniac neighbourwith designs on the two white protagonists, all that was missing was to have them eat some fried chicken and have grills. I am lost for words. Let me use some pseudo-deep philosophy to ponder it, similarly to Kirkegaard, as would be said in the film. I really hope that as many people as possible watch this film and consider how its release was ever made possible. Honestly, why did his black Harvard roommate attack him with a gun???
  • san_strik19 February 2004
    So...Joey Lauren Adams is this professor in philosphy......With that voice????

    It somehow didn't seem right to me. At least we've learned about the dangers of drugs. Before you can say LSD, you're entangled in a web of deceit, with both the FBI and the mafia on your tail. No use to get philosophical about it, just say no. As Buffy would say: 'cos it's Wrong!!!
  • The movie has an unintentionally ridiculous plot involving tri-sexual FBI agents, mobsters, a hot blonde philosophy professor, high stakes gambling, a natural disaster, and a cameo appearance by Al Franken. Interspersed with these things are characters tripping on drugs or philosophizing as college freshmen do, at great length.

    Leading man Adrian Grenier has gotten handsomer since he made this movie; he grew into his looks. He did a good job acting, especially considering how young he appears to be here and the oddness of the material.

    I was expecting the movie to be more offensive because the director has a reputation for doing unspeakable things to females in life, and given his other movies. This movie just appears to be a drug-fueled, delusional, freshman fantasy, but not as enjoyable as that sounds.

    The fact that this director was given several movies to direct after this, each more offensive than the next, is disturbing.

    Notes for the sensitive: The movie opens with footage from a sex scene and there are several more throughout. Plenty of drug usage too.

    Some people have commented on the oddness of the colors in the movie but I just saw it on Showtime and found those to be normal, except for the brown river water in Boston. Maybe the colors were corrected or maybe there are colors only some people can see, like dog whistles.
  • Some movies think there a lot better than they really are. This is a good example of this. Arty camera work, odd angles etc. The problem is that all of the characters are so offensive that I couldn't give a damn if they lived or died. Once that feeling had set in all I wanted was for the film to end. Miss Geller is a decent actress, but if she doesn't find a good film soon may regret her decision to leave Buffy
  • Iced Guardian19 December 2002
    I wouldn't say this movie is ordinary. There is something about it that makes it stick out of the crowd. Perhaps it is the exquisite camera work, perhaps the intensity and the tempo of it, or maybe merely the fact that the acting performance is excellent. It might be a bit intense at the start, but once you pass the threshold, you get sucked into the story. Anyway it is a good movie, and even if the story is not unique itself, the movie truly is. Watch it, it's worth the money renting.
  • I love Sarah Michelle Gellar, she is capable of fantastic acting as made clear in the Buffy series. She has, unfortunately, been given no opportunities to show her considerable talent in film. While Cruel Intentions is a bad movie, Harvard Man is one of the worst - if not the worst - movie I have ever forced myself to sit through. The writing is practically non-existent. There are many scenes of back and forth dialogue with little purpose but to fill time. There are several simultaneous plots (gambling, drug addiction, sexual cheating, dealing with the mob), none of them interesting in their execution. There is no coherence - each plot thread seems forced in to fill time and is not interwoven with a big theme. One soon gets the feeling that the movie was started with little passion from the director, then finished in a hurry to meet a deadline. Harvard Man is transparently what it is: a quickly-made attempt to capitalize on Gellar's fame. To watch it is to wait for its end, amazed that such a thing actually made it as a major motion picture. I CAN'T believe the average rating here is close to 5. Anyone who says this movie is anything but awful is either mentally deficient or has an agenda. The only reason to watch this movie is to gawk at its atrociousness.
  • I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I put this movie in my DVD player. From the very beginning I was drawn in, as much as one can be when someone is fornicating with Sarah Michelle Gellar while playing music from multiple boom boxes and smoking a blunt. I found the character development intriguing & the casting was superb. I like the choice of protagonist, a lesser-known actor surrounded by more recognizable peers, similar to Donnie Darko. The cinematography was interesting, and the portrayal of the effects of LSD were as accurate as I've ever seen on film, sans Fear & Loathing. The subject matter encompasses vices of many flavors. Never before have I seen promiscuity, gambling, deceit, drug use, and gun play so eloquently infused with the likes of philosophical banter. This movie greatly appealed to my sense of intellect as I often found myself caught in sheer amazement that a film like this had been produced and slipped under my radar for so long. It deals with real life scenarios and subject matter often too taboo to be portrayed ever so causally, a refreshing look at a facet rarely seen. It's abstract intellectualism combined with sex and drug use surely won't appeal to conservative film watchers. This is definitely a film for a niche audience and I applaud James Toback for this peek into real life.
  • The new form James Toback minted in his still-sharp-looking 2000 BLACK AND WHITE--a sort-of-Godardian essay movie heavy on cultural politics, flamboyant improvisation, and Toback's sexual obsessions--got kicked to the curb when JT finally made his long-in-the-works autobiographical bildungsroman, which originated with Warren Beatty, and later languished in the fields of Leonardo DiCaprio. Supposedly cast by Mary Vernieu, the movie is really cast by Toback's weiner: what else explains the surrealism of Joey Lauren Adams as a Harvard philosophy professor (at 28!) lecturing undergraduates on Wittgenstein's distrust in the expressivity of language? Or, for that matter, Rebecca Gayheart as a hard-as-nails (but, of course, secretly bisexual) FBI agent?

    In BLACK AND WHITE, Toback's zany stunt casting (Brooke Shields as Nick Broomfield! Brett Ratner as a sleazy hack filmmaker!) worked, because the director let 'em roll, baby, roll. Here, Toback seems to have patterned his dialogue scenes after HIS GIRL FRIDAY--and the editing gooses the rhythms even further, so every scene plays like a MAD TV parody of crystal-meth freaks having a 78-rpm conversation.

    Adrian Grenier plays the hero, Alan, a Harvard point guard, philosophy freak, and cocksman extraordinaire, who greets mob goons and Martin Heidegger alike with the same cool, adult, always-unexpectedly-detached repose. He shocks everyone in every situation with his infinitely wise underreaction to everything. Grenier suggests a moist pretty-boy naif in a Truffaut or Assayas movie; only late in the day, when he overdoses on LSD, does he seem to be acting at all. (That's not meant in a good way.) He divides his bed time between a mobster's daughter (Sarah Michelle Gellar, going for indie street cred just in case SCOOBY DOO didn't turn out) and the aforementioned girl-philosopher-queen (played by Adams as a kind of baby-voiced, bulbous-nosed Diane Sawyer). When Alan has to shave points in a Harvard-Dartmouth game to help his folks in Kansas rebuild their house after a tornado (why this movie allusion?), he gets in trouble with the mob and the Feds--and, this being a Toback movie, it's only a four-way with Eric Stoltz and three hot tamales that can get Alan out of hot water.

    Like Toback's other dud, THE PICK-UP ARTIST, HARVARD MAN seems to have been thought-over to death. Toback massaged this material for many years; the LSD material and even the mob stuff dates the movie, marks it as Toback's bittersweet homage to his early-sixties youth. Set in the present no doubt for economic reasons, the picture makes no sense; but worse, Toback's heart isn't in it. This miserable cast doesn't give him the charge of the astonishing mix of great actors, "interesting" actors and stunning nonactors that made up BLACK AND WHITE. As another Toback gem, the non-fiction THE BIG BANG, proves, he needs a party full of bright minds to get things sparking. Without cast, Toback's Dostoevskian torments quickly turn into congealed Cinemax sleaze--and that will be the elephant graveyard where this blooper will no doubt lie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I am a fan of the offbeat independent genre of filmmaking and I found this to be a rather interesting entry into it. I really like morality tales but I feel a bit ripped when the ending doesn't end with a crash and burn (much like Risky Business or The Graduate). What does save this movie is the first ninety percent of it. Here are my reasons (some spoilers contained within): (1) I loved the sharp dialogue in this movie. Some of the lines that I heard throughout the film I will probably remember for quite sometime. (2) Adrien Grenier's performance was excellent and the best in the film. Seeing him go through that acid trip was enough for me to recommend him for an acting award. The words "Oscar Clip" should have been blinking at the bottom of the screen. (3) Sarah Michelle Gellar was enticingly evil as Grenier's boyfriend. Even her alter-ego would probably want to stab a stake in her heart. (4) The acid trip sequence is about as messed up as any sequence I have ever seen in a movie. As I saw Eric Stoltz's face become visually distorted, I felt like I had dropped acid myself. (5) The philosophical value in this movie is about as heavy as gold. I love it when movies inject philosophy into the plot of a film because the film is then acknowledging that something is supposed to be learned by watching it and therefore it isn't stupid. Most mass-produced movies don't have this phenomenon. (6) The most surprising aspect of the movie goes to Al Franken. He is the last person that I would ever expect to do a cameo in the movie and I don't think his talent was wasted or misplaced. (7) This is the second movie I have ever seen by James Toback and I found his style of filmmaking to be an acquired taste (much like that of Paul Thomas Anderson). He did a splendid job directing this movie however. (8) I found the choppy cinematography to a blessing. If the cinematography hadn't matched the somewhat choppy story to begin with, it would have sank even farther in my mind. Eight reasons give a score of eight.

    The downers I thought were (1) the choppy editing and (2) that sad excuse for a denouement and I believe they are interlocked. Granted the editing was rather sub-par I believe, it was needed to accomodate the screenplay. In order not to blow anything at all, they need to cut and paste it in that manner but the job was unfit anyway. I blame the denouement for that, if there had been a nice crash and burn at the end (much like Donnie Darko and The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys) the film wouldn't have been so choppy to begin with. All movies that are made to send a strong moral should have the character suffer a big loss in his or her life that they have to live with forever. Granted the ending does have some of that, it didn't really pay off in that manner and I felt a little cheated.

    Overall, I found "Harvard Man" to be an engrossing and disturbing film that interlocks philosophy, drug use, and crime into almost nicely wrapped package. If the ending had paid off, it would have been almost flawless. Here ends my rant!
  • It's a pity Toback doesn't do more directing as 2 of his previous films, "Fingers" and "The Gambler" were, in my opinion, definitive works on the conflict experienced by intelligent, driven characters, whose fatal flaw is gambling. In Fingers, Harvey Keitel auditioned as a concert pianist at Carnegie Hall, moments after collecting a past due debt for his bookmaker father. In "The Gambler" James Caan is a Philosophy Professor at Columbia, who loses so much betting football, that he must steal from his mother and convince one of his students to shave points during a basketball game. "Harvard Man" takes facets of these previous films, entwines them in sex and hallucinagenic drugs and the result is an exceptional film. The contrasts throughout the film are many and exist on a variety of levels, as is the film's musical score, which consists of works by Bach played concurrently with Hip Hop. The last third of the film is a combination of sex, drugs, rock n roll, gambling and gangsters, which even though somewhat flawed, puts a finishing touch on Toback's most challenging film.
  • I hate this movie. Its boring all the way. I wasted 1 hour and 30 min. of my life, watching that movie. I am a big fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar, but in this movie she sucks. Its about a boy taking drugs, gets weird, and in the end you see his eyes... WHAT A WASTE OF TIME. In my whole life, i've never seen anything so boring. I got very dissapointed. I've seen it once, and i'll never see it again.

    Sarah Michelle Gellar is absolutely great in: "Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV)" "Cruel Intentions" "Simply Irrestible" "Scooby Doo 1+2" and "I know what you did last summer"

    0/10 stars to Harvard Man, I want my money back!!!!
  • MrP82327 February 2003
    I was convinced in 2001 that the worst film that I ever had the displeasure of watching was 13 Ghosts. Now I'm afraid to admit that I may have very well come across another movie that just might be even worse. I can't even put into words how ridiculous this is so I'm not gonna waste any of my time doing so. This has to be seen in order to understand how awful it is. I believe this would be the shortest review I've ever given and I've never been so sure of myself quite like this before.
  • Adrian Grenier's philosophical moments were actually pretty cool. It doesn't matter how low of a budget: A free-thinking acting spirit like that captures my attention. The parts where he was acting like a regular person were infinitely weaker. Sarah Michelle Gellar was a major let down. Her acting was so much worse than it should have been for the person headlining the movie. Joey Lauren Adams shone as the one who stabilized the movie. Cool to see Ray Allen make an appearance too!
  • Alan Jensen (Adrian Grenier) is the star basketball player at Harvard. They're not that good in a league nobody cares about other than gamblers. His girlfriend Cindy Bandolini (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the daughter of a mob boss. He's also sleeping with his philosophy professor Chesney Cort (Joey Lauren Adams). Alan's parents lose their home in a tornado. Cindy offers him a way to make money fast by shaving points. Instead of her father, she borrows money from her father's associates Teddy Carter (Eric Stoltz) and Kelly Morgan (Rebecca Gayheart). Unbeknownst to her, they're actually FBI agents.

    The visual style and dialog mannerisms overwhelm the plot. The classical music, quick paced speaking patterns, and camera work leaves this struggling to flow properly. It never has a chance to breathe. The actors are good for a more natural style but they're not great enough to pull this off. The movie is simply trying too hard.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    All I can say is that if you have any expectations for this oddball film then you may be disappointed. I thought that the performances by Grenier, Gellar, and Adams were very good and keep the mismatched story together. Every character seems to be rather offbeat and avoid all stereotypes. This is something I found refreshing, the director didn't try too hard to make the characters weird or quirky, but did just enough for you to be a little surprised and in some cases disturbed. Never thought FBI agents were such avid swingers or whatever those scenes are about. There is for sure some odd editing styles that don't really add to the movie in my opinion, but it doesn't hurt too much. Overall it is an enjoyable film and is worth it for the performances and unpredictability. Watch this if your bored and can't find anything to watch, don't have too many expectations. That's not an insult to anyone involved.
  • There is nothing at all to like about this movie. Joey Lauren Adams shows that it is not just her voice that is like nails on a chalkboard. While Adrian Grenier shows off the horrible acting that became so famous on Entourage. All the while the director was confusing annoying with interesting. I can't imagine too many people sat through the acid trip without getting fed up and walking out. It was annoying for the sake of being annoying. All with no payoff to redeem it. I just can't imagine what anyone was thinking making a movie with such a prolonged act that was literally painful to listen to. Which would have been bad enough if the ENTIRE movie wasn't also painful to listen to. IT was as if the audio was recorded in a toy microphone with harsh audio levels.

    I would literally prefer to sit through 2 hours of nails on a chalkboard that this movie.
  • howardeisman20 March 2011
    Chop Suey. A lot of chopped up, mixed up diverse morsels just adding up to a mess. The male lead is supposed to be a college basketball player. He is neither particularly tall nor very muscular. He looks about as athletic as a Kleenex tissue. Joey Lauren Adams has a GREAT voice-for playing a stripper or some such type, not a college professor-of philosophy of all things! Further, she is an item with male lead. I guess she is enchanted with his crooked behavior or his getting stoned out of his head with LSD. Maybe she thinks he looks like Kant. Then there is a gangster, henchmen, FBI agents, all running around for no particular purpose. There is cutting back and forth in time so there is no linear time line. This adds confusion to a film which is already terminally confusing. Sarah Michelle Geller is the one consistent character in the film. She plays it well because she has a part to play. She is a stereotype with no interesting lines, but her part is the closest this film comes to a real character.

    This was shot around Harvard in Cambridge Mass. I didn't see any scenes inside Harvard itself. Even Harvard could not have been stupid enough to cooperate with the making of this stinker.
  • James Toback has a wild spirit as a filmmaker and it lets itself out in Harvard Man in both the good and the bad that one finds in self-indulgent artists (I mean that as a compliment, sort of, since art has to be indulgent to a great degree). He takes a story of a basketball player at Harvard, Allan (Adrian Grenier), and transforms his conflicts with his multiple love interests (mob-daughter girlfriend played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, philosophy professor Joey Lauren Adams), his big gamble that he has to take a dive at a game to get his parents money for their house, the FBI after this backfires, and, mostly, his adventure into fifteen thousand milligrams of pure LSD, into a delirious little epic. Yes, epic.

    Toback's style is all over the place from start to finish. His camera reaches up high and is usually moving, even when there is absolutely no real reason to. The excess in the camera movement is also complimented (or not) by an over-written script, which is something that doesn't happen usually unless a writer, like Toback, doesn't know when to stop with his characters. He compensates by having them talk fast (that or his editor takes out the little catch-my-breath beats in a conversation), and while not as annoying as the camera movements in most scenes in the first half of the film, it's noticeable. It's a filmmaker reaching far, maybe too far, into a realm of personal expression and putting the story into a modern setting - check the Bach mixed with rap and rock for more of that.

    And yet it's hard to totally begrudge what Toback does get right here. When we're meant to take a lot of this seriously in the first half (the deep philosophical talk in Chesney's class about Kierkegard and Lichtenstein or that mob 'family' of caricatures), it's interesting but it never really works dramatically. But when Toback suddenly shifts the tone in the second half, when Allan takes the three cubes of LSD, it suddenly becomes a full-on comedy of errors and surprises. To be sure, some of the visual jokes and whacked-out faces that Allan sees could be attributed to the same style as Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, it still works. Especially funny is how Allan just seems to slip out of the FBI's hands (watch the one really strong scene of cinematography, sound, and acting all combined in the FBI interrogation room), and a masterpiece of a cameo appearance from Al Franken (like Toback also former Harvard alum).

    It also helps with the comedy in the second half of the film that the acting, more or less, is pretty strong. Sarah Michelle Gellar actually gives one of her most convincing, well-rounded performances as a B-word whose intentions are not very well hidden but puffed up with rich-girl sass and sex appeal. Grenier also goes for broke as a guy with a good sense of himself, until he bugs out from the acid and runs all over town. Adams might be a little more of the one-note performance, the stable voice but not as intriguing as Gellar and Grenier in their roles. They're all put in a movie that is mixed up and has a lot to say about sex, drugs, life, living, betting, sports, and lots more. I respect Harvard Man, and if those trip-out scenes come on TV I'll be sure to watch again. But recommend? No. 5.5/10
  • This is one of those rare movies that you can't wait to see a second time because you want to laugh at how bad it was. The acting in the first half of the movie is miserable. Adrian Grenier sounds like a robot through much of the movie. It's almost as though he's (poorly)reading a Teleprompter in many scenes. Joey Laurence Adams shows none of her Chasing Amy charm. Instead, she comes off as annoying and whiny. James Toback tries to play the "mad genius" role as director and has one stroke of brilliance in an amazing acid-trip scene that climaxes with an Al Franken cameo. It is hilarious and the highlight of the movie.

    The rest of the movie is merely hilariously awful. The plot is virtually nonexistent. Sarah Michelle Geller seems embarrassed to be in the movie in certain parts, especially in the miserable scene at her father's house (her dad happens to be a Mafia boss--the main story line is a college basketball player throwing a game to his girlfriend's father, a mob boss. Brilliant and truly cutting edge!).

    This movie is a must see for all the wrong reasons.
  • I watched this movie with my two oldest daughters, who are both fans, as I am of the two main actors. It actually gave us plenty to talk about and has certainly opened their ideas to drugs and what happens when they are abused. I think and hope that they have been put off for life! Adrian, although relatively unknown in our country, is a star in the making and heres hoping there will be more of him to watch in the future. Sarah Michelle is a firm favourite among our family and is always at her best in seductive, bad girl roles. The storyline was certainly filled with twists and unexpected. This movie has just been released on video and dvd in our country, so it has been a long wait. But certainly worth it. I have already told other people to watch it, as I am a fanatic moviewatcher and whenever a movie comes along that really gets me thinking, I do go all out and tell other people to watch it.
  • MOVIE RATING> Okay and with a definite 'skip it' ticket unless you see it on DVD (see reasons below).

    FACTS> movie had in my opinion terrible casting. The only character that resonated through the screen was Sarah Michelle Gellars. The worst one was Gayhearts. Her FBI role should have gone to someone more suitable and more believable. The bisexual element added was ridiculous and can I please know who was turned on by that?

    DVD Worth it?

    Yes. Without a doubt this is one of the movies that you should never see without a guiding light. And who is this light? The director himself. I am a big fan of commentary but when a movie is misunderstood or not liked its often a good idea to check out the commentary. Hearing the directors vision made the storyline more believable. On my second time viewing the movie I found it *PLEASANT* and *INTERESTING*.

    So for this one save the rental: BUY THE DVD. Worth it, especially in other countries where you get extra, extra features.

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