By Maggie Trinkle
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The first thing director Alek Kishishian's "With Honors" does to the viewer is make him feel worthless for not going to a prestigious university. The fact that it is below zero in Cambridge, Massachusetts is little consolation to the UA student viewer.
The fact that the viewer sees not one of the characters (homeless or sheltered) ever working gives the film that last ounce of confirming esteem. Maybe they're all going on loans. Nah, parents.
But often it is just the really good-looking kids that get into the Harvard doors, and would ever have the opportunity to learn this Life Lesson that Monty Kessler (Brendan Fraser) learns. This aggravating, almost unrealistic portrayal of life ends up creating a stronger dichotomy between the Haves and the Have Nots.
Monty seems to have what he needs. Simon Wilder (Joe Pesci) has nothing. At least that is the angle at which the viewer is taught to see things in the beginning. Monty has his honors thesis almost completed. His thesis mentor is impressed with his work and he's in the direction of becoming rich and famous. Until there is a winter storm and his hard drive is fried Ä taking along with it his thesis. All he has now is a hard copy.
Ahhh, the flawed Harvard. Often people who go to Harvard are ignorant to the concept of saving to DISK! (That is a sarcastic exclamation point.)
This is where the UA student has everything over the Harvard man. Because we are all too poor to own our own computers, we have tons of back-up disks storing our papers.
So Marty runs out of his house with his only copy of his thesis and on his way to Kinko's he trips and there goes his thesis into the loving and caustic hands of Simon Wilder, a homeless man who won't give it back whole, just a page for everything Monty does for Simon. Along the way, Monty gets little bits of wisdom from him, ("Women are perfect . If a woman is willing to give you her love, it's the greatest thing in the world" Ä hint to the viewer, his love theory is a little more hormonally-based than it is of the Romantic persuasion like the previews make it out to be.)
Monty is in love with roommate Courtney Blumenthal (Moira Kelly) who has been dating someone else they call "The Face" for way too long. Oddly enough, Courtney is the blind one in the would-be relationship and Monty has it all figured out Ä he just can't get her to see it. She calls him into the bathroom while she's taking a shower and tells him to bring a cover to Simon who is camping out in the VW bus. He barely listens to her and mumbles, "I've never wanted to be a razor so bad in my entire life."
The relationship between the two is developed well. The viewer is akin to Monty's tension and the heartache he feels everytime he sees her leave to go out with "The Face," condoms in hand. There was obvious chemistry between the two actors but the romance didn't get in the way of the main point of the movie.
You don't have to go to Harvard to graduate "With Honors."
In fact, you don't have to go to college at all to graduate "With Honors."
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