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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Doing your best to help others. Working as a team. Learning to be honest with loved ones. Despite good intentions, characters routinely break the law.
Positive Role Models
John is kind and well-meaning, but has trouble living his life in a way that benefits him and others. Other characters are also well-meaning but prone to selfish behavior. More than one justifies breaking the law in order to enrich themselves.
Some gender diversity among the main cast but very little ethnic diversity. Some brief discussion of people's well-being and mental health as it relates to romantic relationships. Someone referenced as "crazy." One female character criticized for being sexually promiscuous. A character worries about people thinking they are gay. Dated views about people who cross-dress, who are described as "freaks."
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Violence & Scariness
Threats of physical violence, played for comic effect. Characters threatened with guns. Guns fired but no one harmed. Mild scuffles. No major injuries. Character punched in face. Character attempts to hit someone with their car. Characters threatened with blunt instruments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. References to sex. Couple shown having sex, with sheets covering them up to their shoulders for the most part. Brief scene of couple showering together but no explicit nudity. Male characters forced to dress as women to fulfill a romantic fantasy. Women at car wash work in bikini tops and shorts. Character shown in underwear.
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There is one use of "f---ing." Language also includes "bitch," "d--k," "scum," "bastards," "a--hole," "s--t," "damn," "crap," "goddamn", "ass," and "numbskull." Some transphobic language. "Jesus" is used as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
Making enough money to send someone to college is the main premise of the movie, but the emphasis is on kindness rather than greed. However, one character is criticized for being focused on money above all else. Some gambling on horses. Character advocates stealing from rich people to help others who need money.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character smokes cigarettes and cigars. Some drinking of alcohol in moderation. Character sells beers to minors. Character takes drugs and appears mildly intoxicated.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stealing Harvard is a 2002 comedy with sexual references, transphobic language, and one instance of drug use. John (Jason Lee) is on a mission to raise the money his niece needs to go to college. This leads to him teaming up with wayward best friend, Duff (Tom Green), in a series of illegal attempts to secure the cash. There is one dated recurring joke about a minor character who asks several male characters to dress as a woman to help him grieve for his late wife. This results in some transphobic and homophobic language. There is also swearing, including one use of "f---ing." There are a couple of instances where violence results in bloody injury, but there is no death or gore, and it's largely played for laughs. The sex scenes are mostly between fully clothed characters, although there is one, non-explicit shower scene and a couple of scenes where women are shown in either their underwear or similar clothing. Drinking and smoking are both infrequent and in moderation. However, there is one scene where a character discusses having just taken PCP and exhibits some eccentric behavior. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A footnote on the resumes of early 2000s stars Lee and Tom Green, this is a buddy comedy that runs on strained jokes rather than any real chemistry between the leads. Stealing Harvard is also stocked with characters so clichéd it's almost as though the writers expect the audience to fill in the blanks, because we've seen them all before. Lee has little to do other than bob along as the disapproving straight man in a bind. Meanwhile, bizarrely, Green is mostly shackled from the physical and gross-out humor that made him famous. Like most male-buddy comedies of the era, the female lead, Leslie Mann, is sidelined as John's fiancee, until the final act, where she's allowed to tag along for the climax.
And while Richard Jenkins is wasted in a series of dated gags that revolve around cross-dressing, thankfully the generic script doesn't totally smother the comedic talents of the supporting cast. Cameos from John C. McGinley, Martin Starr, and Dennis Farina liven things up, as they somehow manage to beat some chuckles out of the material they're given. The rest of it's about as much fun as being hit with a series of student loan repayments.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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