With Honors

Director Alek Keshishian, who documented Madonna in Truth or Dare, returned to his Harvard alma mater to film this mawkish swill about four students who find their lives changed by the homeless Simon Wilder (Joe Pesci). Madonna merely contributes a song, "I'll Remember," to her protégé's film. The bad acting is left to the once capable Joe Pesci (GoodFellas), who plays Simon with militant charmlessness. See how many times you can hear him squeal, "Boy, oh, boy, oh, boy," without running for the exit.

Damon, who takes shelter in the basement of Harvard's Widener Library, is evicted when a student, Monty Kessler (Brendan Fraser), discovers his hiding place by accidentally dropping the only copy of his thesis into Simon's lair. It's an absurdity that typifies William Mastrosimone's script. Just wait until Simon starts coughing like Camille and whining about the family he abandoned. But the tears come later; first we watch Simon the comic noodge dole out a page of thesis for every favor Monty doles out to him.

Damon is soon sharing digs with Monty and his roomies, Everett (Patrick Dempsey), Jeff (Josh Hamilton) and Courtney (Moira Kelly). Fraser and Kelly make appealing foils; they deserve to do more than sponge up life lessons from the man they once dismissed as a bum. Even Gore Vidal, as an old-crock prof, must endure a Simon lecture on government. Boy, oh, boy, oh, boy.

From The Archives Issue 488: December 4, 1986
x