High School

Cast: Matt Bush, Sean Marquette, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, Michael Chiklis, Adhir Kalyan, Luis Chavez, Max Van Ville, Mykelti Williamson, Andrew Wilson, Yeardley Smith, Erica Vittina Phillips, Curtis Armstrong…

Written by: Erik Linthorst, John Stalberg Jr., Stephen Susco

Directed by: John Stalberg Jr.

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Released: January 24, 2010 (Sundance), wide release in June

MPAA Rating: R

Sidenote:

Today being April 20, aka “4/20,” it seemed like the perfect day to rewatch, and write about, a stoner comedy. It just so happened to be the next movie up chronologically, as well, so… here we are.

Summary

Henry Burke (Bush) is a prodigy of sorts, with a 4.0+ grade point average, and a full ride MTI scholarship waiting in the wings. He is also quite serious. Travis Breaux (Marquette), on the other hand, a childhood friend of Henry’s, is a hero among his fellow “stoners,” and doesn’t take anything seriously. 

So, Henry smokes his first joint (with Travis in their childhood treehouse), at the worst possible time. The day before campus-wide drug testing is announced. Henry panics, because if he fails the drug test, he will be expelled, his scholarship will fall through, and basically his entire future is blown.

Travis comes up with a plan to make sure everyone fails the drug test. They’ll steal kief (essentially concentrated THC) from a local infamous dealer (Brody), mix it into brownie mix, and dose everyone. If everyone tests positive, no one will be singled out (and the results would likely be questioned). Oh, it also happens to be the day of the annual school bake sale. Convenient, right?

So, that’s basically the plot. It sounds like it would be a bad movie, I know, but it’s actually pretty decent, mostly due to the great performances.

Adrien’s Role: Edward “Psycho Ed” Highbaugh, Esq.

A quick backstory on Ed tells us he graduated high school at age 15, and became a lawyer “before he could drink.” Then, he went on a trip to Mexico, smoked pot laced with PCP, and damaged some part of his brain. He came back home, revolutionized cannabis growing with his smarts, and became a local legend.

This is easily one of Adrien Brody’s best performances. Yes, I am completely serious. “Psycho Ed” is a perfect blend of genius, mad man, villain, and hero, and he brings the quality of the movie up several notches. I realize I’m biased, since he’s my favorite actor and all, but Ed really is the best part of this movie.

Yes, he’s doing somewhat shady stuff. Yes, he’s considered ‘crazy.’ Yes, he looks like the love child of Hugh Jackman and Snoop Dogg (actually, put that one in the plus column). But darn it, there’s an intelligence and depth to him, too…. His approach to growing, security and the like are all very innovative. This is a brilliant man.

Me, from something I wrote some years back

In Closing

There is a lot of good acting going on in High School, which I think is somewhat unique for the “stoner comedy” subgenre. Brody, as I mentioned, is brilliant, but he’s not the only one.

The leads are both excellent. Colin Hanks is fantastic in a “straight man” role, but he does get his turn at being hilarious, as well. Yeardley Smith has a small, but definitely memorable, role. Mykelti Williamson (of Forrest Gump fame) and Andrew Wilson (brother of Owen and Luke) are both solid as friends (and roommates?) of Psycho Ed’s.

Michael Chiklis is almost unrecognizable as the school principal, and his performance is genius. He and his band do a song during the end credits that’s impressive, as well. Sort of a 1970s-styled rock song called “Get Me High.” Because, of course.

If you’re someone who wants to see a variety of Brody’s performances, you don’t want to miss High School. It’s a side of him not seen in any other film.

Scores

Movie Overall: 6/10
Brody Performance: 9/10

Trailer

 

The Brothers Bloom

Hi there, I’m back!

Cast: Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Rinko Kikuchi, Robbie Coltrane, and Maximillian Schell 

Written by: Rian Johnson

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Genre: Comedy, Adventure/Caper, a bit of Romance

Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Released: September 9, 2008 (Toronto International Film Festival)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Side Note

As some of you know, I also write for a movie blog called MovieBabble. I recently did a piece about The Brothers Bloom over there. *Note: that piece contains some minor spoilers, as it’s a retrospective for the 10th anniversary, not a review. If you’d like to read it, you can find it right here.

Adrien’s Role

Adrien plays “Bloom” (no first name is ever given), a semi-willing partner in con to his brother, Stephen (Ruffalo). The two have run scams for years, with Bloom usually playing the charming one who approaches the mark. Bloom wonders who he really is, after a lifetime of his brother writing roles for him. And he wants out.

Continue reading “The Brothers Bloom”

The Singing Detective

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Adrien as “first hood.”

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Robin Wright, Jeremy Northam, Katie Holmes, Mel Gibson, Carla Gugino, Alfre Woodard, Saul Rubinek, Adrien Brody, Jon Polito

Written by: Dennis Potter (based on the television series of the same name)

Directed by: Keith Gordon

Genre: Dark Comedy, Crime, Musical… also sort of Film Noir

Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

Release: January 17, 2003 (Sundance Film Festival)

MPAA Rating: R

Synopsis

Robert Downey Jr. stars as Dan Dark, a writer being treated for the physical and emotional challenges of a rare skin condition. He basically lives a second [imagined?] life as an alter-ego based upon his books: The Singing Detective (hence the title). It’s part film noir, part musical (though, no one actually sings, they lip sync to classic tunes), part comedy, part tragedy, part very… unique story. Downey does very well in both roles, as one would expect. I’ve yet to see him give a disappointing performance.

Fun fact:

The Singing Detective‘s director, Keith Gordon was once an actor. You may remember him as (main character) Arnie in the possessed anthropomorphic car thriller, Christine. At least, that’s where I best remember him. I think having a director who also acts is really great, because they know about the process and how to motivate people.

Continue reading “The Singing Detective”

Dummy

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DUMMY: Adrien Brody, Vera Farmiga, 2002, (c) Artisan Entertainment

 

Cast: Adrien Brody, Milla Jovovich, Vera Farmiga, Illeana Douglas, Jessica Walter, Ron Liebman, Jared Harris, Mirabella Pisani

Written by: Greg Pritikin

Directed by: Greg Pritikin

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Release: February 21, 2002 (U.S.)

MPAA Rating: R (pretty much for Fangora’s vocabulary)

Continue reading “Dummy”

The Undertaker’s Wedding

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Cast:
Adrien Brody, Jeff Wincott, Kari Wuhrer, Burt Young, Holly Gagnier, Ralph George

Writer: John Bradshaw

Director: John Bradshaw

Genre: Comedy, Crime

Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Release: August, 1997 (Canada), February 10, 1998 (U.S.)

MPAA Rating: R

Synopsis

The title alone should tell you this one is a comedy. The Undertaker’s Wedding is definitely just for laughs, there’s nothing overly deep or meaningful going on. If you’ve seen films like Mafia! and Corky Romano, you’ll have some idea of what to expect here. It’s a semi-slapstick comedy about an undertaker named Mario Bellini (Brody) who gets most of his work from mafia killings.

Continue reading “The Undertaker’s Wedding”