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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap46.15%

2 reviews, 1 rating

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High School
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by Jay Seaver

"Not exactly top of its class"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2010 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Marijuana's got little to no appeal to me in real life, and I don't find most stoner characters very funny, either. So "High School" has a little work to do with me from the start. It does okay as a teenage buddy comedy, but seldom much better than that.

Henry Burke (Matt Bush) is a brilliant student, well on his way to being valedictorian with a full ride scholarship to MIT. On one of the last days of his senior year, he accidentally hits Dean Gordon's (Michael Chiklis) car while swerving to avoid Travis Breaux (Sean Marquette). They both wind up in detention, and afterward awkwardly reminisce about how they used to be best friends. Travis gives Henry a joint, which Henry doesn't much like even before a mandatory drug test leading to immediate expulsion for positive returns is announced. They soon realize that the only way they can keep this from ending in disaster is if the entire school fails the test. Fortunately, Travis comes up with a plan; unfortunately, it's insane and involves stealing hyper-refined THC from a dealer who goes by "Psycho Ed" (Adrien Brody).

Although the plot of the movie is the attempt to get the entire school to test positive, what it's about is rekindling the friendship between Henry and Travis, and the movie is uneven there in a lot of ways. They go from getting along to at each other's throats and back again in the blink of an eye, and it tends to feel very random. There are prominent bits about Henry discovering his need to loosen up, but not nearly so much about Travis maturing and setting goals for himself.

The gags run the gamut as well. There's a lot of "these guys are high but don't realize it!" jokes, which you either like or don't - although even if you don't like them in general, it is fairly amusing to see Colin Hanks combine it with extreme job dissatisfaction. There's a smattering of other funny bits - Adrien Brody has a bizarre conversation with his frog, and a few easy laughs come via a Vietnamese-American student by the name of Phuc. Other bits, like the dean's impure thoughts about his assistant, get pushed much too far.

Colin Hanks is the best thing the movie has going for it; he's the only guy in the cast who is called upon to be funny but never pushes the joke too hard. Michael Chiklis is the opposite; he plays every scene with the same broad tone, making the dean too big a doofus to work even as a comic villain. Brody's got moments of inspired lunacy, and others where he doesn't even seem to know why he's there, other than the plot needing a nudge. Bush and Marquette make a good team when their characters are getting along, but don't quite work otherwise.

A lot of folks' mileage will vary; as I said at the top, this is a movie built around something I just don't go for most of the time. If you like stoner comedies, I suspect that you'll like this; otherwise, it's got its moments, but not much more.

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originally posted: 07/26/10 14:19:18
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2010 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2010 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/27/10 Fredrick Krinkle This movie rocked! This reviewer is a square nerd! 5 stars
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  01-Jun-2012 (R)
  DVD: 04-Sep-2012


  DVD: 04-Sep-2012

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