High School John Stalberg

High School John Stalberg
The stoner comedy is a curious sub-genre. If the goal is to have as many people as possible get incredibly messed up, then High School is an unequivocal success. If you seek genuine laughs and a coherent story, however, you will be sorely disappointed. Henry (Matt Bush) is an overachieving nerd with every expectation of being awarded the honor of valedictorian over his scheming rival, Sebastian (Adhir Kalyan). A run-in with school burnout Travis Breaux (pronounced "bro," of course, and played by Sean Marquette) in the parking lot leaves the oppressive and disturbingly strange principal, Dr. Gordon (an almost unrecognizable Michael Chiklis), with a damaged vehicle. It turns out that Henry and Travis used to be good friends and, in the first of many gaps in logic, decide to rekindle a friendship by smoking a joint and sifting through a box of old memories. When Dr. Gordon naturally decides to drug test the entire school, the two hatch a plan to get everyone blazed by infusing the bake sale with a green and leafy special ingredient. The framework is despairingly thin, with one-dimensional characters and a tacked-on romance that the movie is too distracted to afford more than a couple of requisite scenes. The genuine offense is how unrealistically stupid everyone becomes once they have ingested the special brownies, zoning out and giggling without the sense to realize what has obviously happened. A few actors save the mess from being irredeemable, with Chiklis and Colin Hanks providing welcome amusement in their rapport. And then there is Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, in a role as a menacing drug dealer named Psycho Ed that he will likely never include on his resume, investing the proceedings with a startling and amusing amount of conviction. He and his entourage of Andrew Wilson and Mykelti Williamson, as a chronically paranoid hanger-on, provide the sparse highlights. In a commentary track ― one of the disc's only special features, apart from some forgettable deleted scenes ― director John Stalberg attempts to explain how the film made an effort to capture some of the drawbacks of pot, something rarely attempted (or appreciated) in stoner comedies. It's also depressing to learn how much money was spent on such digital effects as filling in an extra's bald spot to make him appear legitimately young. (Anchor Bay)