Friday, May 7, 2010

With Honors starring Brendan Fraser and Joe Pesci

This movie is a comedy/drama that was released in 1994 (you can tell by the hair styles!!) and was directed by Alek Keshishian. I don't think that Mr. Keshishian had directed any movies prior to this - he was most known for directing music videos for singers like Madonna. It stars Brendan Fraser (as Montgomery "Monty" Kessler), Joe Pesci (as Simon Wilder), Moira Kelly (as Courtney Blumenthal), Patrick Dempsey (yes, McDreamy, as Everett Calloway) and Josh Hamilton (as Jeffrey Hawkes).

Monty, Courtney, Everett and Jeffrey are seniors and roomates at Harvard University.  Monty is dead set on graduating with honors in his chosen major - political science. He has opted to write his senior thesis on economics.  The thesis is decidedly conservative and espouses and subscribes to the theories put forward by Ronald Reagan during his tenure as president. One night, after returning from a long day of classes and research, Monty goes to work on his thesis but all of his data and the thesis on his hard drive are lost when power in the house is lost. Understandably, Monty freaks out because his hard drive is fried but luckily, he has a number of chapters printed out as back up, so he opts to go down to the library to make copies that evening, instead of waiting for the morning, as his much cooler headed roomates advised.  On his way, he breaks his ankle and loses the remaining hard copy down a steam shaft. When he finally gets into the library and finds his hard copy, it is in the possession of Simon Wilder, a homeless man that lives in the boiler room of Harvard's Widener library in spite of being a former Merchant Marines. Simon also has a lot of health problems, including asbestos inhalation that was never identified and treated.  This movie details the impact that Simon, Simon's experience and his knowledge has on the four roomates, and, most notably, on Monty, whose entire worldview changes as a result of this interaction.

I enjoyed this movie, not because it really packed a punch or was a movie with a message (a la Hurt Locker) that was being forced down my throat but because it was a pleasant, easy to watch movie.  It's one of those movies that you can watch that is comforting in the sense that it doesn't really push the viewer but is really high in entertainment value.  I enjoyed watching the actors and, quite frankly, I enjoyed the nostalgia of seeing Harvard, Cambridge and the Charles River in some scenes because those days were a little easier for me. And I loved Cambridge very much. Still do. The cast was wonderful, even though the movie itself could get a little saccharine and cheesy and the plot a little predictable. I also really appreciated that this was a college movie - a movie about college students - where the students seemed to try to figure themselves out as people - to increase their depth and figure out their roles in the world, instead of just trying to figure out how to get beer, more money, more pot or how to get to White Castle. They tried to navigate the moral battles that they were given and to learn from them, and I appreciated that this happened in this movie, whereas in other movies, that doesn't always happen. I really enjoyed it in general, even though it wasn't a critically acclaimed movie.

This is one you should add to your collection.

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