In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb spiderverse poser

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman have breathed thrilling new life into the comic book movie. The way they play with tone, form…

Thumb beale street poster 2

If Beale Street Could Talk

Jenkins’ decision to let the original storyteller live and breathe throughout If Beale Street Can Talk is a wise one.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb tvovw7qjj63zbqw5tz8cjpthaud

Schindler's List

This was published on June 24th, 2001, and we are republishing it in honor of the film's 25th anniversary rerelease."Schindler's List" is described as a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

High School

High School Movie Review
  |  

"High School" is a pun. Get it? This is one of those stoner comedies that may be funny if you're high — but if not, not. The film premiered two years ago in the Midnight Movies section at Sundance, a wise decision. Midnight movies are often attended by audiences who walk in already giggling. I wouldn't advise seeing this during the daylight or early evening hours, unless you already have a running start. As a comedy expected to be funny without chemical reinforcement, it's labored and lame.

The plot: Henry, the school's valedictorian, gets high on weed for the first time in his life. This happens on the very day a fellow student turns up stoned at the state spelling bee and blows her championship. The school principal is aghast and requires the entire student body to pee in the little cups for compulsory drug testing.

Advertisement

Henry (Matthew Bush) envisions his scholarship to MIT going up in smoke (ho, ho). His best pal, Travis (Sean Marquette), a career pothead, is sympathetic. They dream up a plot to get the entire school high by switching the brownies at the school bake sale with their own recipe, spiked with powerful resin stolen from Travis' drug dealer.

Is this intrinsically funny? I suspect the filmmakers think so. But nothing is intrinsically funny. It depends on the characters and situation. The downfall of "High School" happens because the characters are carbon copies from countless earlier movies, including, I am afraid, yet another school principal who is a pompous ass, and yet another drug dealer who is a grotesque sideshow act.

The dealer is Psycho Ed (Adrien Brody), who long ago was a brilliant student before he fried his brains. He seems to have spent the years since then in a project to make himself look as repulsive as possible. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe you like bodies densely covered with confusing tattooed doodles. Maybe you like one of those beards twisted into a scrawny thin braid. Maybe you like eyes that, if they were drawn in, would be pinwheels.

Adrien Brody won an Academy Award and has spent years trying to live it down. Maybe times are hard. Maybe this was a role he needed. To give him credit, he throws himself into the part with manic, violent acting-out. He tries to make Psycho Ed funny. Matthew Bush and Sean Marquette, as Henry and Travis, play their students as one-dimensional creatures of the plot requirements.

And spare me Michael Chiklis as Dr. Leslie Gordon, the high school principal, who didn't get the memo that modern principals are usually pretty bright and in touch. His arch mannerisms and elaborate speech patterns remind me of nothing so much as a failed dinner theater actor auditioning for a public service announcement.

Anyway, the entire school gets stoned, even the teachers, and that's the joke. It's played in various permutations, all obvious. There is no suggestion that drugs might possibly be unwise for high school students, which of course they are. But the film offers proof that they are unwise as a subject for comedy unless the movie in question does something funny with them. It isn't funny to simply act high, except possibly for the person who is. Which leads us full circle to the subject of midnight movies.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Baffling Failure of Fallout 76

A review of Fallout 76.

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to ...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus