Citizen Cannabis

Patient: How High.

Profile: A movie about smoking pot that's pretty entertaining when the characters are smoking hooter and pretty uninteresting, clichd and painful when they eschew sparking up cheeba so that they may wallow in a lame fish-out-of-college water. Think Animal House meets Half Baked meets Oxford Blues meets Searching for Bobby Swagweed. Symptoms: The wacky drug movie has an honored pedigree for entertaining, whether it's Reefer Madness, Brigadoon (don't be so naive) or Up in Smoke. In the beginning, How High holds up the tradition with its paper-thin premise that smoking grass—herb, bush, dickweed—allows the main characters to test high and get into Harvard. We hardly notice and really aren't bothered that the premise is paper-thin because the characters say funny things like “and your haircut game is fucked-up!” while igniting themselves with their own blunt—fatty, kickstick, three-prong-adapter—jumping out of windows and getting hit by buses. That's entertainment! When they get to Harvard, the hijinks continue, but the ridiculous machinations of a plot start: the young-love storyline, the dating-above-one's-station storyline, the young-man-who-wants-to-make-something-of-himself storyline. All of them play on the young men from the street battling all the bluebloods and high-class types—in other words, it's about as fresh as a Ratt video. The main problem during these scenes is that the characters are not smoking or talking about smoking or preparing to smoke or getting the money together to smoke Mary Jane—Sweet Lucy, Mary Weaver, Bill Bennett—though, in a strange but true twist, they do end up smoking John Quincy Adams. I will say no more. Diagnosis: How High? Not high enough.

Prescription: Your characters should always, ALWAYS, be smoking spliff—dagga, grifa, sensemilla, ritamoreno. They are funnier when they are blazed. There are funnier things you can do to them and with them when they are partaking of giggle weed—wacky tobacky, happy grass, olive loaf. What's more important, if they are always high, it lowers the expectations of the audience for a cohesive plot, or even a plot at all. If they are watching a bunch of people who are baked, doing things baked people do, they'll completely overlook the fact that your script appears to have had every third page removed. There is a point in the far superior Half Baked when the characters take flight. Are they really flying? Do we care? They're fucked-up—what right do we have to expect a storyline? Look, your audience will gladly settle for funny scene after funny scene of people taking and talking about Acapulco Gold—Canadian Black, African Woodbine, Turtle Rock Mauve. Trust me, that's all the crowd I saw wanted as they meandered about the theater, seemingly oblivious to everything but their arms laden with snack items.

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