Harold (2008) Poster

(2008)

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6/10
For a Direct-To-Video Comedy, It's Not Bad & Quite Funny
D_Burke6 December 2009
I frequently am amazed at the amount of unknown movies I see in video stores. I'm a big movie buff, too (this is my 96th review on this site in 4 years). At a Blockbuster, for instance, I can be guaranteed that in the New Release section, 60% of the movies are direct to video, and most of them are probably crap. That is especially true for comedies, particularly the blatant ripoffs of "Van Wilder" or other frat house flicks.

"Harold" fell into that category. I picked it up, though, because it had a bunch of famous people in it. It had Ally Sheedy, the adorable Nikki Blonsky (after "Hairspray"), a number of SNL alum (Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell, and longtime writer James Downey), and Cuba Gooding, Jr. Now honestly, considering Gooding has starred in some bad, bad comedies since winning his Oscar ("Boat Trip", "Daddy Day Camp"), his role alone didn't give me high hopes for this movie.

Fortunately, the movie was better than I thought it would be. Granted it has a predictable plot line, and has actors who are high school age or older playing junior high kids. Still, there were parts of this movie that were refreshingly funny, and Gooding was probably the best thing about this film.

The film centers around Harold (Spencer Breslin), a 13 year old who is prematurely bald simply because male pattern baldness runs in his family. Because his hairline has completely receded, and what little hair he has is thinning on top, he looks far older than he actually is. Somehow he also acts like an old man for reasons the movie doesn't bother to explain. Harold is comfortable in his own skin at first, and likes his life in his small hometown.

His single mother (Sheedy) then gets a job promotion which requires him and his superficial sister Shelly (Stella Maeve, who is actually quite good in her role) to move to a more urbanized community. While Shelly fits right in at her new high school, Harold gets bullied by other boys and victimized by his gym teacher at his new junior high. Being prematurely bald doesn't help matters.

In typical junior high movie fashion, Harold develops a crush on a Lindsay Lohan lookalike Evelyn (Elizabeth Gillies), falls in with a group of misfits which includes Blonsky, and the misfit girl (Blonsky) develops a crush on Harold that he naturally takes no notice of. This subplot of the film is definitely cliché, but fortunately, thanks to the clever writing of former SNL writer T. Sean Shannon, it avoids banal plot points that other junior high angst films fail to do. For one, the Evelyn girl isn't mean to Harold, or in general. Plus, Harold's crush on her is realistically misguided.

Unfortunately, the rest of the storyline lacks originality. As soon as you hear about the drag race that coming Sunday, you know there will be a climactic showdown. The second Harold goes to gym class, you know the gym teacher is going to be mean to him. And so on. In fact, this film bears a striking resemblance to another direct-to-video movie about a junior high misfit: "Lloyd" (2001). I could cry plagiarism on this one, but "Lloyd" was even more cliché and didn't even reach the level of clever writing this film did.

Amazingly, Cuba Gooding, Jr. contributes greatly in saving this film from being as predictable and forgettable. Gooding plays Cromer, the school custodian who Harold befriends and later counts on when he is in bad situations. Gooding has some laugh-out-loud hilarious lines, and he is truly genuine in every scene he's in.

Perhaps the most confusing character in this film is Harold himself. Breslin plays him as someone who not only looks and acts old, but who (I guess) wants to be old, judging from his reading the newspaper and religiously watching "Murder, She Wrote". It didn't say why, though, or how he was ever comfortable with having patchy hair. I currently have all of my hair, but I still think that if I ever lose it up top, the rest of the hair is going. It would have been cool if Harold had decided to actually shave his whole head and make that his style, but it doesn't occur to him to do that. Just as Blonsky let her hair down in "Hairspray", I really wanted Breslin to shave his whole head and really give the hackneyed climax scene the boost it needed. Ah, missed opportunity.

Speaking of Blonsky, I also wish her character was more developed. Blonsky was adorable and fun in the "Hairspray" musical, and she's equally as magnetic in this movie. However, it was clear that her character was written so passively as to be a hackneyed teen movie character. Her character should have had some more clever lines, instead of just being the non-glamorous girl with a crush on the hero. Blonsky deserves better because she's a great actress. Hopefully she'll be in other good movies soon.

Although Maeve was actually funny as Breslin's sister, Ally Sheedy wasn't given a lot to do here, either. She's just matter-of-factly a single mom here. There's a funny outtake where she's sarcastically ranting (in character, I assume) about how great she had it in junior high, a tongue-in-cheek reference to her famous misfit role in "The Breakfast Club". It would have worked well in the movie not only as a good joke, but also to give the mother a more strongly supportive role.

Overall, though, there were some very funny, laugh out loud moments in this movie, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. was perhaps the best thing in here. So far, though, there hasn't been a really funny movie about junior high that simultaneously touches on how painful those years really are. "Welcome To The Dollhouse" has come the closest so far. Still, I marginally recommend "Harold" because it is funny and enjoyable to watch.
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10/10
If you like 1980s teen films (Breakfast club etc..) U will LOVE this film!
predator2prey28 October 2008
If you like 80s movies, Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, etc... then you'll LOVE this movie. This movie is an 80s film made in the new millennium. People that don't like this movie don't understand what the director was trying to do. He was trying to capture the spirit of the 80s for our time. He even used Ally Sheedy, one of the classic 80s actresses!! This movie is just as good as the best 80s teen movies!!!! I doubt teens now could appreciate it. They're too busy watching SAW or Gossip Girl. But for those of you who appreciate the 80s this film is a real treat. The main actor, Spencer Breslin, is incredibly talented. It's amazing how convincing he is copying the mannerisms of a 40 year old. There's few teen actors out there who could pull it off. Cuba Gooding Jr. is HILARIOUS! I'm not really a fan of his but in this film he is fantastic. Don't miss this film!!!
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8/10
a real hidden gem............
alanmstevenson10 September 2008
all i can say is wow what a great surprise this movie was,went in not expecting much but this was a total shock went far in my ideas of comedy to take a small time film and create a funny simple and creative movie about a 13 year old boy with baldness................this years Napoleon dynamite some great one liners and shock and horror moments to make anybody cringe with laughter......................going by the voting so far i bear to think what comedy people like because most will like this movie,its cool funny and has a good story,simple as it is,sometimes a simple story with predictable scenes is what people want and this takes those and proves a right treat,it will really depend on your mood watching this.awesome one liners too boot......
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8/10
Hilarious indie comedy
Buddy-5123 January 2012
"Harold" provides more laughs per minute than any comedy in recent memory.

The premise of Greg Fields' and director T. Sean Shannon's script provides us with a veritable gold mine of sparkling comedy nuggets. 13-year-old Harold has virtually nothing in the world going for him - for not only is he an eternally put-upon, socially awkward nerd, but his early-onset male-pattern-baldness makes people assume he's a middle-age man. This, of course, leads to a great deal of humiliation and social rejection for the kid - but countless moments of awkward-situation and mistaken-identity hilarity for the audience. But Harold does have at least two things in his favor: a rapier wit that allows him to hold his own in any situation – no matter how surrealistic and bizarre in nature - and a mature enough understanding of how the world actually works to help him navigate through life's rough waters and emerge a stronger person in the end (at times he seems like Woody Allen as we imagine he might have been right at the onset of puberty). And it's that spirit of knowing optimism, more than anything else, that purges "Harold" of cruelty and makes us laugh WITH rather than AT the character.

I don't know where these guys Fields and Shannon came from, but their script for this film is a gem of originality, tonal balance and understated satire. In addition, the movie is blessed with an array of outstanding performances, starting with Spenser Breslin, who makes of Harold a thoroughly likable and wholly relatable figure. Ditto for the rest of the cast, which includes Ally Sheedy, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell, Stella Maeve, Suzanne Shepherd, Elizabeth Gilles and Robert Gorry.

Together they've made an endearing, hilarious comedy that grinds the over-priced and overpaid Hollywood big boys of the business into the dust.
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9/10
Made me feel good about being bald
marcmatthews30 July 2009
T.Sean Shannon has called upon his friends (and family) and created a unique, funny film.

Modeled after the typical high-school, new-kid, nerd plot, this movie has enough funny parts to make me rate it a 9. If I had to describe it, I would say "Sixteen-Candles" meets "Mr Woodcock" would be a good-approximation.

Filled with bit-parts by SNL players, as well as comic veterans and Oscar-winners(!), Harold keeps you guessing at a good pace all while making you giggle/laugh/broo-hah-hah in many places.

I think it must have been a nice departure for the seasoned actors to play the comedian role... the newbies held their own alongside. I predict that several of the young actors will go on to further roles. I am not sure about T.Sean's brother, Pat, though. His cameo is as short as he is bald (and now, old)! :)

Well worth the rental/download!
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2/10
It could've worked
LBarlane2424 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I really don't know where to start, but here it goes:

THE GOOD: Cuba Gooding Jr. What else can I say; this man has had several Oscar nominations. So far in his life, he has only won ONE. With that said, this should have been his next.

THE BAD: EVERYTHING ELSE! I mean, the premise alone is, not only brilliant, but unique: An adolescent boy with a rare condition that causes baldness, how in the hell couldn't they have made that work!?

I'll tell you how, just let me list down every adolescent movie clique you can think of:

  • It starts out with the protagonist having a regular everyday life, up until his (or her) parent tells the whole family that they have to move.


  • Upon arriving to the new place, the protagonist has a real difficult time fitting in. More so, he (or she) is picked on just for being "different".


  • He (or she) eventually falls for an attractive, yet completely shallow, girl (or guy) and tries hard in so many ways to get her (or his attention).


  • At the end of the climax, he (or she) later realizes that he (or she) never needed affection from her (or him) to begin with.


this whole movie is filled with nothing but one bad joke after another: each one relies on either pedophilia, awkwardness, or bad taste.

THE ACTING: What else can I say other than the fact that it is god- awful. I mean, as bad as everyone else is in this, they are nowhere near as horrendous as Spencer Breslin. He's proved that, since The Santa Clause 2, he cannot act to save his life.

All in all, (with the exception of CGJr.) there is no real effort put into this train wreck whatsoever, so don't waste your time on it.
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