Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
HairBrained: Beat Harvard
we all been waiting for the definitive College Bowl movie? They call it
Collegiate Mastermind here, but it is the same idea. However, viewers should be
prepared to grade on a very generous curve when Billy Kent’s HairBrained (trailer here) opens tomorrow
in New York.
year-old Eli Pettifog might be a child prodigy, but will have to settle for
Whitman College, a small east coast liberal arts school of modest reputation,
instead of his dream school: Harvard. Perhaps not unreasonably, he finds himself
rooming with Leo Searly, a forty-something (at least) compulsive gambler amidst
a mid life crisis. Of course, this only heightens his sense of social
isolation. Naturally, the dumbest of the jocks picks on him mercilessly,
because his Yahoo Serious hair is simply a magnet for bullying.
Pettifog starts to make a place for himself when he takes over Whitman’s
Collegiate Mastermind team. Powered by Pettifog’s brain, they start crushing
their Ivy League competition. Soon the Whitman Warring Hares attract mighty
Harvard’s attention—in a bad way.
HairBrained might not be the
most original film, but the villains are from Harvard, so it has that going for
it. Pettifog’s hair and his Dickensian name are about the only things in the
film that are not lightweight. Still, Julia Garner is quite winning as Shauna,
the townie prodigy, whom Pettifog takes a shine to. Greta Lee (recognizable to
hipsters from her work on Girls) has
some moments as well as Pettifog’s teammate, Gertrude. It is also hard to fault
Brendan Fraser, who labors like a rented mule trying to make man-child Searly
problem is Pettifog is just sort of boring, which is obviously a big one
considering how much of him there is in HairBrained.
Frankly, Real Genius covered similar
territory in the 80’s, but with considerably more wit and edge. Nonetheless, there is a real tonal issue with
respects to Pettifog’s mom (a criminally wasted Parker Posey), who is presented
within the film as a lovably boozy trollop, but in real life would probably
warrant a social services investigation.
There is not much to say after watching HairBrained, except “eh.” To his credit,
Kent keeps it moving along at a reasonably healthy pace. It is mostly harmless
and professional, but not a lot more. Earning a shrug more than anything else, HairBrained opens tomorrow (2/28) in New
York at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: Brendan Fraser, College Movies