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.
Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Released: January 24, 2010 (Sundance), wide release in June
MPAA Rating: R
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.
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
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.
Movie Overall: 6/10
Brody Performance: 9/10