I have to commend John Stalbert, Jr., the director of High School, for knowing the type of movie he was making and staying true to that idea. This is a stoner movie through and through, and never once does it succumb to the expected Hollywood tradition of moralizing by the end. Nobody learns anything, the anti-weed “villain” of the film is defeated by our stoner heroes, and everybody gets their happy ending. If you are the type of person who thinks weed is hilarious by default, then by all means, please enjoy this movie. If however you fall into any other category, this movie is not for you.
I try not to talk too much about myself when writing these reviews, but in this case, it’s important to note that I am not even close to the target demographic for this film. I don’t do drugs, at all. For that matter, I don’t even drink. This movie is not meant to appeal to somebody like myself, and while I will try and judge it for what it is, rather than what I would rather it was, I can’t help but watch from the perspective of an outsider. This is the type of film where every character is seemingly incapable of talking about anything beyond weed, pro or con. That makes it very difficult for somebody like myself to invest in any of these characters.
None of this would matter if the movie was actually funny. For being a supposed comedy, I struggled to find anything that would be considered even remotely amusing. I can’t imagine that even a stoner would garner much enjoyment out of the proceedings beyond a simple recognition of self. The actual content revolves around a valedictorian (yeah, right) who decides to try weed for the first time the day before the school principal (Michael Chiklis) institutes a mandatory drug screening for the entire school. Realizing that the only way to not get in trouble would be to get the entire school high, they replace all the brownies at the school bake sale with their own batch, laced with an incredibly powerful drug stolen from a psychotic dealer (Adrien Brody). Needless to say, hijinks ensue (or should I say “high”jinks?)
It’s a ridiculous premise with a cast far greater than it deserves. Michael Chiklis is an amazing actor, but here he has created a terrible, grating character as the school principal. The whole movie is over-the-top, but this is a profane and deeply disturbing role that stands out as a terrible character in a film filled with them. The filmmakers have gone out of their way to make him as disgusting as possible so that his anti-drug stance just seems like one more thing to root against him on.
On the flip side is Adrien Brody, one of the few in the cast who seems to be in on the joke. He brings a mad lunacy to the role as somebody who’s drug use has pushed him just to the edge of sanity. While he’s not in the film much, his sequences stand out not necessarily as good, but at least interesting. Other notable cast members are Colin Hands and even a small part for Lisa Simpson herself, Yeardley Smith.
As a subject, drug use is as strong a topic for comedy as anything else. However, the drug use itself isn’t what’s funny. It’s just a springboard for the actual humor. Just look at Cheech and Chong, That 70’s Show, and even Dude, Where’s My Car? All involve drugs, but the drugs are the setup and not the punchline. High School’s mistake is in thinking that the drug use is both.
New to Blu-Ray, High School contains about 12 minutes of deleted scenes, an audio commentary with Stalberg, and the theatrical trailer.