Anchor Bay Films
93 min., dir. by John Stalberg, Jr., with Matt Bush, Sean Marquette, and Adrien Brody
I’m not saying you can’t successfully make a good stoner comedy, but at this point in the growth of the human race, it seems like a cheap and easy way to get laughs. High School does have an interesting enough spin to separate it from the pack. Working as a double-edged satire on those “dangers of drug use” educational films, High School plays the morals card better than most.
Henry Burke (Matt Bush) is an incredibly bright student. On his way to being the class valedictorian with a full scholarship to MIT, he’s ready to leave high school behind and put his talents to good use. Travis Breaux (Sean Marquette), on the other hand, is a loser. Stoned every minute of every day, he doesn’t care who knows it. One morning, these two opposites meet in an unfortunate fender-bender that lands them both in detention. While things seem tenser than ever between these two former childhood friends, they make amends and try to catch up on some old memories.
During their bonding session, Henry partakes in smoking weed for the first time ever. Later that evening, though, the two learn the overbearing Principal Gordon (Michael Chiklis), sick of the infestation of drugs in his school, has called for school-wide drug testing the next day. Thinking he’ll lose his scholarship when he tests positive for marijuana, Henry agrees to join Travis to pull off one impossible task: get the entire school high without them knowing. If everyone tests positive, Henry is off the hook. Like all good misadventures though, nothing goes as planned.
While the scenarios presented are unlikely and outrageous, they’re still highly implausible in the given timeline. Normally, this type of action would throw me into a fit of whiny rage. The saving grace, however, is that it’s probably the film’s only major issue. The increasing insanity of the characters built into High School seem to rip through general apathy toward the style and make it good fun.
It’s the well-known names of this film that bring the draw. Colin Hanks, as the assistant principal, progresses into a further ridiculous state every time he is on screen. Michael Chiklis is an over-the-top caricature of a power hungry, low-level monster from the minute he pops on screen — yet when the movie shifts back to him, it’s hard not to find his madness entertaining. Of course, the big draw for the film is Adrien Brody as the psychotic, full body-tattooed, burnout drug dealer.
Wrapped up in the humor is an actual story, thankfully. It’s easy to judge the stoner type that seems to breeze through life, not caring. It’s almost as easy as getting laughs out of portraying them. Still, it’s a judgment being made, without knowing the whole picture, and there’s no knowing what anyone is truly capable of. High School is not the comedy event of the century, but it’s a decent enough ride through the clam bake of life.