Somehow, in some inconceivable way, Harold delivers unexpected belly laughs in the process of being predicable, goofy, and a bit repulsive at times.
Harold (Spencer Breslin) has just turned 13; however he acts like he is 60. Prematurely bald and rectally examined at a very tender age, Harold is now forced to move to a new town. This is a hard pill to swallow for a bald, overly mature 13-year-old kid who doesn’t fit in with his age group. With the help of the high school janitor (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Harold plans to become a town hero by winning the town go-cart race.
With a handful of some admittedly bad moments that I blame on editing and some pretty bad narrative, it can only be said that Harold shifts between being distasteful and enjoyable. This rare mixture doesn’t sound like something appetizing, but if you can get past the look, it’s surprisingly refreshing.
It doesn’t surprise me Harold has the aspects of a television series reminiscent of My Name Is Earl or, better yet, an SNL skit. This is what one would expect from a film directed by T. Sean Shannon, who is responsible for writing over 150 SNL episodes. It doesn’t have the quality to be a true winner, nor does it have characters you feel comfortable rooting for. However, when you meet Harold, you begin to believe that a one-joke SNL premise can actually be stretched into a feature length film successfully based solely on the look and personality of a character. It’s Pat tried this and the outcome was disastrous. Unlike It’s Pat, this chintzy approach is exactly what makes Harold work in its own puny way.
It becomes apparent that the only way to actually get laughs out of me is by making Spencer Breslin look completely ridiculous and then ridiculing him. Whatever works, right? Harold is a film that takes a stab at one of Hollywood’s most disrespected child actors for laughs and this somehow works. Peppered with a few good in-jokes based on the elderly’s taste in cereal and cologne, a couple of good laughs, and Cuba Gooding Jr., who is repeatedly mistaken for a child molester, Harold is time well wasted.
While the message here is clichéd and entirely oblivious, the film works in a way that can only be described as “shamefully enjoyable”.
I was expecting bottom of the barrel material. What I got was sloppy fun — a film that avoids the dreaded banana peel and goes about without a noticeable stumble. So, when you have nothing else to look forward to on television, Harold just might fit the bill for something to pass time and not regret watching.
The DVD’s special features include “U.S.A. Trailer” and “Interviews With The Cast and Crew”. Not much for special features, but truthfully, the film doesn’t deserve any more than its release to DVD on September 16. 3/5 stars