Reviewed by: Chris
After watching a great film, you can feel warm and happy inside, and wonder how such a low down culture like Hollywood could make a picture such as this one. Then there are movies that make you wonder how great they could have been, if only they smelled of the fragrance of the Christian worldview, instead of the (occasionally) grating dead energy of the combined forces of modernism and neo-paganism.
This is a movie of the second sort. Joe Pesci plays Simon, a man on the fringes of the dominant American culture (he calls himself a bum), living in a warm boiler room under a Library at Harvard. Monty (Brendan Fraser) is a student walking by in the cold night air, with his important college thesis, which he values highly. These two men would have never met… until Monty trips and drops the papers right into the home of Simon. Simon promptly acquires the papers and refuses to return them to Monty, unless he gets a frosted doughnut. Over a period of time, Simon returns Monty’s thesis, but only page by page in trade for accomodations. This almost business-like relationship eventually turns into a close friendship of love, with Simon being the surrogate father Marty never had.
Simon is a Zen Buddhist, detached from the pain of his life. The rest of the people in this film don’t seem to have any religion at all, except for a brief glimpse of a minister. Through the film there is a running theme of the false idea that a “platonic” relationship can be maintained while living with a nubile person of the same gender in the same house. Through the dim and blurring glass door of a shower, we later are introduced to another student (Moira Kelly). She eventually becomes sexually involved (off screen) with Monty. There is too much immodesty, too much toilet humor (a minute is enough) and you have in short, a nice plot and heart-tugging plot weighed down with inappropriate (to say the least) material.
The story is still touching though, and heart tugging, with the central theme of love and friendship… and of family rooted in the center of “With Honors” like a column. This theme runs through the film like a golden braid, pulling it almost above the sinful relationships and misguided beliefs that guide the characters in this film.
When viewing “With Honors”, be certain to point out the false “light” of the dangerous relationships, for this film certainly approves!
Year of Release—1994