How High Movie Review

The good old American pot comedy genre has no truly good movies within its category, but it definitely has some of the most enjoyable and memorable films to ever hit the screen. Of the goodies, there's Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke and Ice Cube's Friday, and the bad ones are too numerous to be named (Half Baked being at the bottom of the list).

How High is definitely one of the good ones. Lowbrow, vulgar, and certainly formulaic, it's also creative, absolutely hilarious, and -- judging from the crowd at my screening -- knows better than to shoot over its audience's heads.

The biggest reason the film works is its leading men, rap stars Method Man and Redman, who bring more than just some decent acting skills to the table. They also bring their well-established rap personas -- the former being the dark, brooding artist type, and the latter acting the loudmouth clown (as can be seen in one of the funniest episodes of MTV's Cribs). Together they have charisma and great chemistry.

Method Man plays Silas, a pot dealer and closet botanist who is talked into taking college entrance exams by his smart pal Ivory (Chuck Davis). When Ivory dies, Silas plants his ashes in with a new pot plant. Just before the exam, he and pal Jamal (Redman) smoke a little bud, and Ivory's ghost appears out of the haze, helping them ace the test. Next thing, they're cruising the hallowed halls of Harvard (and, wow, does it look a lot like Southern California).

But the hard-nosed Dean Kain (Obba Babatundé) is on their case, and wants them kicked out. Meanwhile, the duo set up shop in their dorm, grow weed in their closet, throw mad parties complete with "hos" and drunken farm animals (drinking out of the punch bowl, no less), and create all kinds of trouble while fighting the power (which, in this case, is old-fashioned academic snobbery).

The script goes from the most cliché -- getting the uptight guy stoned; the Asian guy cracking jokes about his "two hard inches" in broken "Engrish" -- to the very funny -- Spalding Gray as African-American History professor so impassioned about his subject matter that he delivers his lecture almost entirely in Ebonics -- to the bizarre -- exploding pigeons, the ghost of Ben Franklin, and a bit involving John Quincy Adams' corpse. And let's not forget to mention all the fantastically quotable lines, like Redman exclaiming, "How did I fail women's studies? I love bitches!"

Plus, there are great little bits that you might miss if you blink, including two TV spots featuring Saturday Night Live cast members Garrett Morris and Tracy Morgan, and a party scene cameo by legendary toking rappers Cypress Hill.

Obviously, How High is not a movie for everyone, but it's sure to find its crowd. It's also a movie destined for the cult flick stacks. Are you one of the crowd? Anyone who can appreciate the juvenile wackiness of Cheech & Chong will definitely groove on this joint. But those who scoff at their substance-abusing ways should definitely stay away from this reefer madness.

There's plenty more raunch and roll on the How High DVD, with 20 minutes of deleted scenes, outtakes, and a clearly recorded-while-stoned commentary from Method Man and Redman. The "Hide the Stash" game is probably the most ridiculous Easter Egg ever put on a DVD.

How high? Very high.


How High Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 2001


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