How High Jul 23, 2019 19:55:09 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 23, 2019 19:55:09 GMT -5
How High (2001)
Directed by: Jesse Dylan
Directed by: Jesse Dylan
Silas (Method Man) and Jamal (Redman) in How High.
Silas (Method Man) and Jamal (Redman) are two stoners who meet in the best possible way. They pull up to take a standardized test (known as the "THCs") and both are trying to take the edge off with some marijuana. Jamal stupidly turns on his car air condition and, well, there goes his unwrapped weed. Silas, on the other hand, has weed, but no blunt. The two glance at one another from their respective vehicles. "Got blunt?," Silas asks Jamal. "Got weed?," Jamal responds after confirming he does indeed have a wrap. Jamal then enters Silas' car. A friendship is born.
It's hard to believe that the way rapper/celebrities Method Man and Redman met in real life wasn't entirely dissimilar from How High. The two have swaggering chemistry that makes the unassuming stoner comedy from the early aughts a blissfully easy watch. Whether you choose to aid your viewing with some chemical reinforcement may indeed impact your experience. In fact, it only helps. But no amount of cannabis will make you believe this film was directed by Bob Dylan's son.
Where was I? Indeed, Silas and Jamal become fast friends, and are soon visited by the ghost of Silas's late friend Ivory (Chuck Deezy), who was cremated and his ashes used by Silas for a new batch of marijuana, as friends do. Henceforth, the weed triggers the presence of Ivory, who tells them the answers to the test while they take them, resulting in both men getting perfect scores. Chancellor Huntley (Fred Willard) encourages the two to apply to Harvard University, and after being greeted by a litany of unappealing colleges, the men do just that and are enrolled in the most prestigious university in America.
One on campus, How High introduces us to a barrage of caricatures, but amusing ones at that: the white professor who teaches black history studies (Spalding Gray, the brilliant writer), who is pretty anti-white himself, "I Need Money" (Al Shearer), a mute man whom Jamal met many years back who got his name from writing the phrase on a piece of paper, and Jeffrey (Justin Urich), a doofus looking for acceptance from a fraternity. There's also Laura (Lark Voorhies), who catches the eye of Silas; she likes him too, but is currently dating the ultimate try-hard Bart (Chris Elwood). Finally, since even the most lax stoner film needs an antagonist, there's Dean Carl Cain (Obba Babatundé), who informs the boys they must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to remain at Harvard, and seeing as both Silas and Jamal make Cain's life hell, he seeks to expedite their expulsions by doing whatever it takes.
I vividly remember How High enjoying enviable syndication on Comedy Central during a good portion of the 2000s, but I never sat down to watch it until now. I'm kind of glad I waited. While I still find a good bunch of "stoner films" to be insufferable or lazy, I've come to recognize that some have merit. One of the guiltiest pleasures I have is the Pauly Shore/Stephen Baldwin comedy Bio-Dome, and I see a lot of similarities between these two films. Both play like a cartoon come to life, equipped with asides that are amusing enough because of the charismatic personalities at the forefront. It's not hard to see Method Man and Redman were passionate about the project and carried that passion throughout the film, by way assuring that the flick would be a rowdy good time.
Much of How High, too, plays like a fantasy, with plot-points involving a truth serum made from cannabis and another including the corpse of former U.S. President John Quincy Adams. As downright stupid as things get, you can't help but chuckle at Method Man and Redman's shenanigans, and the fact that the likes of Ulrich and Babatundé try to remain straight-faced in this obviously hazy, smoke-filled representation of Ivy League education only adds to the allure of the picture.
The film's structure isn't all that different from a variety of 70s screwball comedies, ala Meatballs, which turned into
"basic cable comedies," as one Letterboxd reviewer so accurately bills it. It's conducted like a series of isolated sketches, although the project is not as staccato as it could be. It all culminates with a strong number of good laughs, a dynamic duo that's easy to embrace, and a damn good remix of War's infectious tune "Cisco Kid," featuring Cypress Hill, Method Man, and Redman. It's hard to ask for more from a film that's very title is chalked up to an early zinger that has since become one of the best stoner quotes from any flick of the genre: "If I study high, take the test high, I'll get high scores."
Starring: Method Man, Redman, Obba Babatundé, Lark Voorhies, Essence Atkins, Justin Ulrich, Chris Elwood, Al Shearer, Trieu Tran, Mike Epps, and Spalding Gray. Directed by: Jesse Dylan.