With Honors

A Harvard senior on scholarship (Brendan Fraser) has a rude encounter with a homeless wino (Joe Pesci) camped out in the basement of the campus library. The student and his three roommatesMoira Kelly, Patrick Dempsey, and Josh Hamiltonlearn a lot about how the other half lives, while the hero winds up with a surrogate for the father he never had. A good deal of this can be read as a Clinton-administration update of The Paper Chase (a Nixon-administration movie), with Gore Vidal enlisted to do a rough equivalent of John Houseman’s cameo in the earlier picture; otherwise, it’s a fairly effective tearjerker with a smidgen of social conscience, despiteor is it because of?the compulsive Hollywood gloss. Truth or Dare’s Alek Keshishian directed (with distinction if not honors), which helps explain why Madonna furnishes the movie’s theme song, and the better-than-average script is credited to William Mastrosimone, though both playwright Israel Horowitz and novelist Rafael Yglesias (Fearless) are said to have worked on it. (JR)

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