Review: HIGH SCHOOL

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

I found myself consistently laughing throughout the screening of this simple stoner tale of a high school valedictorian and his buddy who succeeds in getting nearly the entire student body and its faculty stoned on a most important day of the school year.  The valedictorian Henry Burke (Matt Bush) has a bright future ahead.  He is a shoo-in for M.I.T. and already has proven himself highly intelligent with his science projects and exceptional grades.  When he decides to catch up with an estranged friend, Travis Breaux (Sean Marquette), a guy who has made a name for himself as the class stoner, Henry takes his first sample of marijuana.  Soon afterward, the tyrannical head master Dr. Leslie Gordon (Michael Chiklis) orders drug testing of the entire student population, threatening to expel anyone who fails.  Henry and Travis manage to steal a stash of potent experimental marijuana from infamous dealer Psycho Ed (Adrien Brody) and bake a huge batch of brownies for consumption at the upcoming bake sale. 

Written by Erik Linthorst, John Stalberg and Stephen Susco, and directed by Stalberg in his directorial debut, High School doesn’t offer anything ground breaking or brilliant in terms of comedic storytelling and filmmaking, but that’s okay.  The humor is so awesomely written and performed that I could forgive the simple and predictable plot.  Plenty of jokes hit their marks and very few miss.  The writers combine intelligent, dumb, stoner (obviously), and pop culture comedy.  The writers not only celebrate their obvious love for cannabis, but also have a field day poking fun at the different character types who use the substance. 

 Matt Bush and Sean Marquette perform well in their roles as the school brain and stoner.Marquette has a definite talent for sharp wit and comic timing.  Adrien Brody offers a hilariously intense turn as the sometimes frightening burnout Psycho Ed. Adhir Kalyan portrays Sebastian Saleem, Henry’s bitter academic rival who plots to rob him of his top graduation honor.  Michael Chiklis is almost unrecognizable in his sleazy looking wig and mustache as the loathsome Dr. Gordon.  The man does some fine work in this atypical role.  The film also features great supporting performances by Colin Hanks (Brandon Ellis), Mykelti Williamson (Paranoid), Yeardley Smith (teacher), Michael Vartan (Calculus teacher) and Curtis Armstrong (Mr. Thompson). 

 I have to hand it to director John Stalberg and his writers, cast, and crew for producing a basic movie that could have taken too many comedic wrong turns.  The writers and actors succeed in pulling of a hilarious stoner comedy which probably won’t appeal to all audiences, but will find its fan base.  I do believe that this movie will please more than just people who consume marijuana.  It does have more to offer than cheap “pot” shots.

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