Harold (Spencer Breslin) has a problem: He’s a 13-year-old with a bald head and matching old-fogie personality, wardrobe and gripes. Harold, longtime SNL writer T. Sean Shannon’s directorial debut, has a bigger problem: It has one dreary joke—Harold is young but everyone thinks he’s elderly!—with which to gussy up stale outcast-makes-good clichés. Decked out in grandpa clothes and spouting complaints about his bunions, Harold is a fanciful fiction designed solely for countless “You’re only 13?!?” punchlines, so it goes without saying that his attempts to woo a popular girl, triumph over bullies and generally come out on top make no emotional impression. However, the absence of any diverse humor is near fatal, turning the story into the epitome of a groan-worthy SNL sketch distended to feature length. Despite persuading former colleagues Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell and Colin Quinn to participate, Shannon flounders in setting up a crisp comedic rhythm, his film plodding along like its protagonist aboard his for-senior-citizens Rascal motorized scooter.
Why Harold’s baldness should cause him to behave like a crotchety grownup is inexplicable, as is the film’s decision to saddle him with corny narration in which he self-consciously addresses his archaic disposition. Mistaken for an old man, Harold gets a rectal exam from his doctor (Fred Willard), who exclaims, “You have the prostate of a 10-year-old!” Harold references Aesop’s The Lion and the Mouse to confused-looking teens. Harold is sexually pursued by a mature neighbor, easily procures lap dances at a strip club and buys beer for older kids. And so Harold goes, stringing together nearly identical, lame gags in routine scenarios which waste an energetic cast that also includes Hairspray‘s Nikki Blonsky, Ally Sheedy and Cuba Gooding Jr., who—as Harold’s suspected-pedophile janitor friend—now has another film to place alongside Radio in a potential Gooding-Unsettles-White-High-Schoolers DVD box set.