- Running time:
- 99 minutes
- Adrien Brody -
- Psycho Ed
- Sean Marquette -
- Travis Breaux
- Matt Bush -
- Henry Burke
- Colin Hanks -
- Brandon Ellis
- Michael Chiklis -
- Dr. Leslie Gordon
Filmmakers must have been tripping pretty badly when they made High School, a flub that's about as lucid as a stoner at a spelling bee.
That's how this doomed comedy begins, with a character named Charlyne Phuc (pronounce it like the profanity and you get this film's comedy style), trying to spell "logorrhea'' after taking some deep hits off a joint.
Instead, she draws etymology parallels to "diarrhea," a word she must also explain to the spelling bee crowd. Her name becomes one of the many flat stabs at humor by High, a film that sat on shelves for two years after a festival run.
Its inertia makes sense, as this is a film that is less about plot than pot, and whose idea of a comedy bit is having people walk through high school as high as Cheech and Chong.
Hollywood has a fine history with stoner comedies, with Cheech and Chong at the forefront. But at least those films use the need for weed as a propellant, one that puts our heroes in fixes only burnouts seem to find.
Here, though, the plot, like the humor, is a one-note wonder.
Valedictorian Henry Burke (a sullen Matt Bush) makes the poor call to get stoned with his friend Breaux (get it?), an amiable pothead played by Sean Marquette.
Unfortunately for the kids, Phuc's freakout has prompted school-wide drug testing, which threatens Henry's chances of getting into MIT. Henry's plan? Get the whole school high during a bake sale that coincides with testing day, invalidating the results.
Somehow, High, directed by newcomer John Stalberg, lured serious talent, including Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks and Michael Chiklis. Even odder: They're the worst actors of the bunch.
Brody plays Psycho Ed, the tattooed drug dealer who fancies talking to his frog and hitting himself in the head for clarity. Hanks does no harm as a school administrator suck-up, but he adds little.
The true mystery is Chiklis, whose role as Principal Gordon is so humorless it could use a snare drum to punctuate punchlines. His destiny is sealed early in the movie when he explains that stoners stole his cat's anesthesia, leading to a nasty facial cut during surgery. "Doctors told me," Chiklis deadpans, "that I had cat scratch fever." Ba-da-boom.
Give High this: It gets the high school aesthetic. Kids sport tattoos, know how to smoke and videotape anything that could go awry.
The rest, though, is lost in the thick blue haze that substitutes for story.
Movie theaters and showtimes for High School in Cincinnati.
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