Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a mobster’s man-teasing, college-cheerleader daughter; Joey Lauren Adams becomes a hot bisexual philosophy professor who discourses on three-ways; Adrian Grenier is a cocky college basketball star who fancies himself the most invincible swordsman on campus. In other words, James Toback brings his usual obsessions to the party in Harvard Man, a characteristically engorged and sloppy coming-of-age movie from the filmmaker (Harvard ’66) who, in his body of work, indulges his fantasies as fetishistically as other men finger their cigars.
By now anyone who enters Mr. Toback’s neighborhood ought to know what to expect from the Maxim-minded auteur. But even those who give the director his props for Black and White may squirm restlessly, frustrated by this grubby-looking, prattling nostalgia for a more exciting time, when youth trumped prudence. In the movie’s best, most potent scene, the director authoritatively conveys how terrifying a bad acid trip feels from the inside out; in too many other scenes, he postures and philosophizes from the outside in.