69 user 28 critic

Harvard Man (2001)

A basketball player strikes a deal with the mob to fix a basketball game.


James Toback


James Toback





Cast overview, first billed only:
Adrian Grenier ... Alan Jensen
Sarah Michelle Gellar ... Cindy Bandolini
Joey Lauren Adams ... Chesney Cort
Eric Stoltz ... Teddy Carter
Rebecca Gayheart ... Kelly Morgan
Gianni Russo ... Andrew Bandolini
Ray Allen ... Marcus Blake
Mike Vetere Mike Vetere ... Russell (as Michael Aparo)
Scottie Epstein Scottie Epstein ... Mario
John Neville ... Dr. Reese
Polly Shannon ... Juliet
Phillip Jarrett ... Coach Preston
Adam Bloch ... Kenner
Lauren Collis Lauren Collis ... Connie
Landy Cannon ... Butch


College has always been a time for experimentation, sexual, cultural and otherwise. "Harvard Man" plays out against a background of love, sex, basketball, crime and experimentation. Action and philosophy in young people's quest to discover their true identity. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passion, Seduction, Deception

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug use, language and some strong sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Leonardo DiCaprio was initially set to star. See more »


The outdoor scenes would indicate mid summer when basketball season is in the middle of winter. See more »


Cindy: Well, pardon me for breathing, what are you his fucking savior?
See more »

Alternate Versions

On The DVD there is an Alternate Opening Scene. The only major difference being that the sex scene between Cindy & Alan is more graphic (you see more naked shots of Alan, which were not in the original version) See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Heaven's Gate: Part 1 (2015) See more »


I Can't Let You Go
Written by Jim Galloway
Performed by Love Candy
Courtesy of Attack Records
See more »

User Reviews

5 July 2002 | by nunculusSee all my reviews

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

1 August 2001 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Harvard Man See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »


Box Office


$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,425, 19 May 2002

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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