Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
One of these days, a stoner movie will be made that appeals even to a prudish, non-drug using type. High School – with the emphasis on the word “high” - is the latest throw-away low-brow stoner aimed directly at pot-smokers of a younger generation. It’s another half-baked attempt in the genre, directed by first-time feature-filmmaker, John Stalberg. But instead of just showing a bunch of pot-heads getting high, why not broaden the approach? It’s puff, puff, give in this world and non-smokers are too often being passed over when it comes to explaining just what makes weed so darned irresistible.
The premise is at least solid. In High School, the valedictorian Henry (Matt Bush) reunites with his loser childhood buddy Travis (Sean Marquette) right before graduation. When the straight-laced kid is offered a joint by his old friend, he figures why not? Problem is, the rigid and horribly lame Principal (Michael Chiklis) has had it up to here with his student body. He announces a mandatory drug test for all students in order to graduate. This totally trips out Henry and Travis so they concoct a plan: If everybody fails the drug test, then no one will care! They decide to spike the upcoming school-wide bake sale brownies with weed.
But where does one go to get enough pot to get an entire high school high? There is always an elderly pot-smoking weirdo lurking down the street in these kind of films, and this film's resident weirdo is Psycho Ed (a tattooed and bearded Adrien Brody). Henry and Travis attempt to steal his mother-load of enhanced pot so that they can taint the brownies and…well, it doesn’t really matter what happens after that Beavis, could you just imagine the entire school being high? Heh-heh, heh-heh.
We get it – pot is cool, it gives you the munchies, makes you hallucinate (in movies at least), and brings forth intense giggles. Every played out and prehistoric cliché is on display in this film, with results laced with disappointment.
Unlike other recent stoner films, say, Pineapple Express – a movie about pot that was actually funny – High School contains so few laughs that it is nearly laughable. The biggest stoners in the film are also the biggest heroes, and the villains that are lampooned are anybody over the age of 35 who doesn’t smoke pot or is an adult. To that end, High School is a pot-smoker’s wet dream – a film where marijuana is God, and God is good.
Michael Chiklis takes a huge risk playing the incredibly uptight Principle in a role that makes Animal House’s Dean Wormer look cooler than Pootie Tang. Watching Vic Mackie (the role Chiklis owned on The Shield) play it straight was fairly interesting. Chiklis was clearly going all out and having fun.
In the film, the students are shown one of those preventative “don’t do drugs” videos (by scene-stealing Curtis Armstrong, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds who sadly only appears in two scenes in this one). In the video – played for laughs of course – the effects of smoking pot are dramatized, and as those instructional warning videos tended to do, the smoker’s world is shown totally being destroyed. High School itself is playing off of this, as Henry’s world totally flips upside-down upon puffing his first blunt. It’s not to be taken seriously and it is clearly meant as comedy, not drug glorification. But making it funny to a sober mind may have been a good play.
Whether you smoke pot or not no one is judging. But only one of these two groups will enjoy High School. In reality though, what movie isn’t better when seen higher than a kite? So I’m told.
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Matt Bush, Sean Marquette, Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks, Adhir Kalyan, Yeardley Smith, Michael Vartan, Curtis Armstrong
Directed by John Stalberg (feature-film debut)
Opens locally Friday, June 1st, 2012
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