Night of the Stoners – Half Baked & How High (Review)

A few days ago a mate named Fat was at a loose end so he brought over his Secret Santa presso, a double DVD featuring the above pair of pot related flicks.

Whether his Secret Santa viewed Fat as a closet stoner himself was never clarified – he does often have the munchies though – after 3 hours viewing time though I can be a little more sure that stoner related comedies are often more enjoyable to stoners, either current or former.

Half Baked

Half Baked joins Cop Out as another especially accurate title, even if it was not deliberate. It’s like writers Dave Chappelle and Neale Brennan thought “How about we make a movie where we can give lots of our fellow comedians a job AND be able to tell stories for the next decade about how we weren’t smoking prop dope onset?” The other guy nodded in the smoky haze, they financed the film based upon a script outline and then realised “shit we need jokes”?

Here’s what they came up with: Four guys live together with one common goal – to get as high as they can as often as they can using amusingly monikored smoking accessories. When one of them is imprisoned for inappropriate dealings with a horse – not that kind – the remaining trio decide to sell enough dope to cover the $100,000 required for bail before all sorts of hilarious jailsex acts can be perpetrated upon his person.

Thurgood (Chappelle) sources the superstrong weed through scientists that have genetically engineered it at the building where he is a janitor, in a couple of scenes that only happen in “look it’s a dumb comedy, don’t sweat the facts” films like the two I’m reviewing here.

After smoking the weed there are numerous easy near-chuckle inducing jokes and many moments designed to elicit “yeah we were dicks when we were high too” empathy. That being said if you weren’t ever (or aren’t now) high, it’s merely a few boneheads sitting around talking shit, grinning inanely and doing very little. Even without the drugs I did several years of that in my 20s and while I loved it at the time I wouldn’t pay to watch 90 minute snippets of it now.

The painfully unfunny Harlan Williams is Kenny the imprisoned bonehead – a plus as it limits his screentime to a few minutes and his jokes to a few allusions to looming non-consensual sex. Jim Breuer mugs every single scene that he is in, in either an amazingly accurate or at least amazingly stereotypical portrayal of a perpetually stoned moron. This leaves Guillermo Diaz to say “Yo” and call people “B” a lot while Dave Chappelle himself does and says all the things resembling comedy for the remaining hour or so.

The annoying thing is that while Chappelle was effortlessly funny – or appeared to be – for the 2 seasons of his own show he struggles mightily here. It’s worth noting though that even if he doesn’t make with the laff-laff too much he is already quite likable and his delivery is solid. It’s just that likable is worth liking but hardly funny, and with most of the cast being unlikable and similarly unfunny, Half Baked comes across as somewhat – well – half baked.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. Proof that even remowned comic geniuses have to work on their craft before becoming instant successes. A couple of chuckles amid 80 mostly unfunny minutes.

(If you’re a stoner this might all be hilarious, still more proof that smoking kills brain cells.)

How High

How High on the other hand knows it is simply a vanity project to give a couple rappers a day job and an imdb credit. It manages to be funnier and the better film of the two – if only verrrry slightly.

Method Man is Silas: A smart cookie and renowned local weed-chemist who would rather be developing new strains of powerful weed than furthering his education.

Redman is Jamal: A street smart but not very book smart young guy who wants to get into college only because his Mum demands it.

When the ghost of Silas’s deceased friend helps them ace the entrance exam with perfect scores – yep it’s that easy folks – they decide Harvard is the place for their further education.

Both guys nab hotties in quicktime, Meth the cute egghead and Red the crazy skank from esteemed parentage.

The usual “cool but frankly inappropriate guys getting up to stuff while the squares gasp” ensues.

Fred Willard is the oblivious old white guy in a senior role who thinks these two guys are just super. Hector Elizondo is the old white guy in a senior role who suddenly thinks he is black and ends up acting thusly, and the film ends with a formal gathering in which the boys get everyone stoned and the staid old white people getting fonkay in impromptu fashion. (If you’re a stoner and fret that this will ruin your enjoyment thanks to the spoiler don’t worry, you’ll forget in just a minute anyway.)

In between are various parties, pranks, white people not understanding and such. In answer to the obvious question of How High? The two guys are perpetually stoned and therefore very high, the movie unfortunately never scales any such heights.

Final Rating – 6 / 10. About what you think it will be. A couple of charismatic guys spouting slang and cracking wise at those in the “establishment” (Damn You Establishment!).

The moral of the story here is that stoner comedies are made for stoners. In 20 years of watching films I can recall only one that made me laugh, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle… and even that wasn’t great.

But who am I to hate:

Toke on mediocre film makers!

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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