High School Blu-Ray Review
Starring Matt Bush, Sean Marquette, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, Yeardley Smith, Curtis Armstrong, Mykelti Williamson, Michael Vartan, Adhir Kalyan, Alicia Sixtos and Michael Chiklis
Written by Erik Linthorst, John Stalberg and Stephen Susco
Directed by John Stalberg
The stoner comedy field is a tricky one to master, trying to delicately balance the material for pot smoker and non-pot smoker alike. For every Dazed and Confused and Harold and Kumar there is a plethora of awful attempts to bring “pot culture” to screen through comedy. Out this week from Anchor Bay Entertainment is the Sundance and Toronto After Dark fan favorite from 2010, High School, another film in the same vein, but on which side of the argument will it land?
High School is the story of soon-to-be valedictorian Henry Burke (Bush), who, after taking a hit of the chronic for the first time provided by his childhood friend Breaux (Marquette), must pass a mandatory drug test administered by his school’s maniacal principal (Chiklis). After an embarrassing incident on National Television, Principal Gordon is determined to eradicate drugs from his school by whatever means necessary. Henry is left with two options: fail and lose his college scholarship, or team up with the unreliable Breaux to find a solution. The pair foolishly decides to steal a high powered ganja from law student-turned-drug-dealer Psycho Ed (Brody) and spike the school’s bake sale brownies, getting the whole school, including faculty and visiting school board members included, completely stoned out of their minds. After all, if everyone fails—then no one fails. But with Psycho Ed and his henchman closing in and Henry’s overzealous academic rival Sebastion (Kalyan) unravelling their plan in front of them, can the pair succeed and disqualify the test results in the process?
High School succeeds where almost all the other imposters to the pot throne fail. The first third of the film plays more slowly as the character’s background and motivations are explored, but after the boys visit Psycho Ed the film switches into high gear. Acknowledging the ludicrousness of the story, the writers seem to have spent their time developing the characters and thus create roles for people that we can honestly root for. The premise is a simple one, and yes getting everyone high is particularly funny in its own merit, but acknowledging that their actions are dangerous because of the implications of people not knowing that they are high keeps the movie from getting overly silly. That said, the film is completely pro-marijuana as no character is ever in real trouble and the characters also make sure that is understood loud and clear. Bush and Marquette work well together, their chemistry shining through the screen. The faculty made up of the likes of Colin Hanks, Yeardley Smith, Curtis Armstrong and an unrecognizable Michael Vartan have some fun moments as they try their hardest to continue acting professional the higher they get – Hanks in particular shines here. Brody’s Psycho Ed, including henchman Paranoid played by Williamson, is never played too heavy as his threats are dispersed with comedic points. There is the obligatory “hot girl that is way out of the geek’s league” storyline with Sixtos that plays out, but fortunately it’s a very minor plot point and does not interfere with the rest of the shenanigans at work. Chiklis in a bad wig is funny enough on its own, but he still manages to portray a hilariously creepy villain for the boys. The background is filled out with fun characters, a great looking school for its setting, and a pretty killer soundtrack to boot.
Sadly the Blu-Ray only comes equipped with a deleted scenes feature and an audio commentary from Director Stalberg. At least there are some additional laughs through the deleted scenes. Also included is the bizarre trailer that really says nothing and sets the completely wrong tone for the film.
Ultimately I feel High School will become recognized as the pot comedy cult classic that I feel it is. The laughs are strong and do not diminish with a second viewing. High School is a strong buy recommendation.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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