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High School

2010 | 99 min | R | 2.39:1

High School


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Theatrical release date

 01 June, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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Screenshots from HIGH School Blu-ray

High School Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 9, 2012

The first character introduced in the stoner comedy “High School” is a young woman by the name of Charlyne Phuc. Lean hard into the pronunciation of that last name, and that’s the level of wit we’re dealing with in this picture. Taking three years to arrive in theaters, “High School” doesn’t break any new ground in the pothead genre, content to hit tired beats of confusion, perversity, and teen concerns, back by a terribly lazy script that stumbles from one scenario to the next. If the aforementioned surname joke sounds hilarious, by all means, the film will tickle you endlessly. For everyone else, stick with established stoner classics and avoid this unsightly jumble of jokes and stupidity.

With dreams of M.I.T. dancing in his head, high school student Henry (Matt Bush) is on his way to a perfect G.P.A., much to the concern of his rival, Sebastian (Adhir Kalyan). When some hallway trouble finds Henry rekindling an old friendship with loser Breaux (Sean Marquette), the boys celebrate with a joint, giving the overachiever a full hit of freedom from his routine. When stiff Principal Gordon (Michael Chiklis) fears his student body has been lost to marijuana abuse, he orders a school-wide drug test, leaving Henry in a panic. Concocting a plan to get the staff and students high on testing day, Henry and Breaux look to steal a particularly potent brand of weed from deranged drug dealer Psycho Ed (Adrien Brody). Commencing a brownie feeding frenzy, the boys are close to achieving their goal, only to find Ed on the property demanding money, while Principal Gordon fights to preserve control, watching his school succumb to an extraordinary high.

“High School” doesn’t submit the level of effort required for a one-joke comedy to get off the ground. Dealing with weed, the producers are content to play dumb with the material, using tepid goofballery with a league of teen stoners and uptight adults as a blueprint for jokes. While blessed with a promising premise, “High School” doesn’t do anything with the raw materials, sluggishly working through Henry and Breaux’s hasty adventure, where they encounter Psycho Ed’s suburban marijuana factory, labor to overthrow a bake sale, and deal with the consequences of their actions, watching friends and faculty (Colin Hanks, Yeardley Smith, Michael Vartan, and Curtis Armstrong appear) melt in front of their eyes. While the movie is insistently unfunny, it’s almost tragic how badly director John Stalberg Jr. fumbles the potential for a wacked-out farce, refusing to let loose with the boys as they scramble to maintain order.

There are many problems with “High School,” with casting a frequent irritant. Bush is a bland brainiac, while Marquette lays on the slobbish, sassmouth act on thick, making Breaux instantly repellent, though it seems the material would like the audience to root for the obnoxious character to save the day. Chiklis is way over the top under a ratty red wig as Principal Gordon, viewing the movie a rare shot to show another side to his acting ability. Least effective is Brody, who’s difficult to swallow as a thugged-out, hyper-intelligent drug dealer. Overacting, though it’s hardly noticeable with all the actors begging for attention here, Brody is a bore, leaving one to wonder what a more considerate actor could’ve done with the crude role. Of course, with the bar set at the “Phuc” nonsense, perhaps Brody did the best that he could.

A few subplots are bluntly slashed in an effort to streamline the feature (one highlighting Henry’s crush on a cheerleader named Sharky Ovante -- oof), and there’s a disastrous choice to portray Principal Gordon as a sexual predator, making a refusal of the film’s charms all the easier. Also of concern is cinematography by Mitchell Amundsen, who prefers a darker lighting scheme, which seems inappropriate for all the dopey shenanigans. It makes “High School” feel oppressive, which, combined with the nonexistent timing and futile gags, makes for an entirely deflating viewing experience. A pot comedy shouldn’t feel like an endless bummer.

Starring: Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks, Matt Bush, Cody Longo, Adhir Kalyan
Director: John Stalberg

» See full cast & crew

High School, Forum Discussions

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High School with Adrien Brody 11 Jul 21, 2010
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