Harvard Man is a 2001 American crime comedy-drama thriller film written and directed by James Toback, and starring Adrian Grenier, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Joey Lauren Adams, Rebecca Gayheart, Ray Allen, and Eric Stoltz.

Harvard Man
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Toback
Written byJames Toback
Produced byDaniel Bigel
Michael Mailer
StarringAdrian Grenier
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Joey Lauren Adams
Rebecca Gayheart
Ray Allen
Eric Stoltz
CinematographyDavid Ferrara
Edited bySuzy Elmiger
Music byRyan Shore
Bigel/Mailer Films
The Kushner-Locke Company
Distributed byLions Gate Films
Release dates
  • May 10, 2001 (2001-05-10) (Cannes)
  • April 12, 2002 (2002-04-12) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$5.5 million[2]
Box office$56,653[3]


The story concerns Harvard student Alan Jensen, the point guard of the Harvard basketball team. When his parents' house is destroyed by a tornado, Alan is desperate for $100,000 to replace their home. He is approached by his girlfriend Cindy Bandolini, whose father is an organized crime boss. Cindy convinces Alan to throw a game for the money. She tells Alan that her father is behind the deal, but actually she goes to her father's associate, Teddy Carter, and Carter's assistant, Kelly Morgan for funding. What she does not know is that Carter and Morgan are undercover FBI agents.

Alan throws the game, gives his parents the money, and then undergoes a psychedelic experience after he ingests a big dose of LSD, 15,000 micrograms. There follows a long stretch of the film during which morphing special effects demonstrate Alan's altered state as he is pursued by Carter, while Cindy is collared by Morgan.

Just when it looks like a toss-up as to what will prove his downfall first, the bad trip, the FBI, or the mob, Alan's other girlfriend (who is also his philosophy lecturer), Chesney Cort, saves the day. Not only does she get Alan to a doctor who can bring him back to sobriety, she reveals that she is in a sexual threesome with Carter and Morgan. Once he gets some photographic evidence for blackmail, Alan is extricated from his problems.

The ending implies that he may have hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (a chronic disorder in which a person has flashbacks of visual hallucinations or distortions experienced during a previous hallucinogenic drug experience) this is also known as having acid (LSD) flashbacks. While taking a picture of a boy in the park the boy's face morphs and Alan hears echoes of past conversations when Sandy said "Sometimes it never ends". The little boy consoles Alan telling him "everything's okay". He responds "I hope you're right". A close up is shown of his eyes dilated.



Harvard Man had only a limited theatrical release in July 2002, and received little critical or popular acclaim, although it achieved some success when it was released on video and DVD in October of that year.

Critical receptionEdit

The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 33%, based on 36 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Harvard Man is a pretentious, incoherent mess."[4] On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film has a score of 49 out of 100, based on 20 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5]


  1. ^ "HARVARD MAN (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 2002-12-05. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  2. ^ "Harvard Man (2001) - Box office / business". IMDb. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  3. ^ Harvard Man at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Harvard Man at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Harvard Man at Metacritic  

External linksEdit