T. Sean Shannon’s Harold


The long stretches of dead air that, it can only be assumed, were supposed to be filled by laughter provide ample time for pondering what audience Harold, T. Sean Shannon’s strenuously stale comedy, was intended to find. Harold (Spencer Breslin) is a young fogey whose crustiness is as premature as his male pattern baldness. Seemingly above and beyond the adolescent desire to fit in, the 13-year-old crank alienates the people around him in the most unappetizing, unfunny ways possible. Harold features Bueller-esque to-the-camera narration, toilet humor, plunky dialogue, lame laugh cues (actual crickets sound over a shot of a teenage boy at a loss), and decent actors whose slumming would be merely embarrassing in a less ignoble film. (Chris Parnell, Rachel Dratch, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Ally Sheedy and her wiry, killer guns all appear.) As Harold moves through some jerry-rigged paces to get a girl, make a friend, and win the big go-kart race at his new school, the question of who might find Harold even mildly entertaining looms large: Its sub-Nickelodeon sophistication will leave the junior-high hordes groaning (or tittering), while the Matlock and Murder She Wrote references will be lost on everyone younger than someone like me. And I refuse to get them on principle.