How High [DVD]
Screenplay : Dustin Lee Abraham
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 2001
Stars : Method Man (Silas P. Silas), Redman (Jamal King), Obba Babatundé (Dean Cain), Mike Epps (Baby Powder), Anna Maria Horsford (Mrs. King), Fred Willard (Huntley), Jeffrey Jones (Vice President), Hector Elizondo (Crew Coach), Lark Voorhies (Lauren), Al Shearer (I Need Money)
The problem with pot comedies is that, in general, one has to be high to get any enjoyment out of them. Viewing them sober--or even anything less than completely inebriated, for that matter--tends to result in an irritating movie experience. Yeah, there's humor for the first few minutes, until you realize that the same basic joke is being repeated over and over again in slightly different variations. In fact, it is much like sitting with someone who is high and thinks he is very funny, but is in fact just a babbling stoner who would just as well talk to the wall.
Some pot comedies manage to transcend this basic barrier (some of the better moments in the Cheech & Chong canon immediately come to mind), but How High is not one of them. Silly, sloppy, and liberated from any sense of pacing or plot, it meanders through a litany of fish-out-water hijinks involving a couple of Staten Island homies (rap duo Method Man and Redman) who smoke the ashes of a deceased pothead friend, which somehow allows his ghost to give them all the answers to an entrance exam, thus getting them accepted at Harvard. Their hip-hop, streetwise attitude and care-less approach to everything doesn't fit in with the straight-laced, white-bread academic Ivy League world of Harvard, and the obviousness of that scenario pretty much sums up the movie's entire approach to its well-worn concept.
Method Man plays Silas P. Silas, who wants to go to Harvard primarily for its first-rate botany program, which will help him grow better strains of weed. He hooks up with Redman's Jamal King, who moves from being henpecked by his domineering mother (Anna Maria Horsford) to a fierce rivalry with Bart (Chris Elwood, who appears to be trying to channel Jim Carrey), the squarest spoiled-brat white boy on the entire campus. This also involves vying for the affections of the pretty Lauren, played by "I've-seen-you-somewhere-before-oh-right-in-Saved by the Bell" Lark Voorhies, as well as a bad-girl daughter (Essence Atkins) of the Vice President of the United States (Jeffrey Jones). In general, Silas and Jamal give Harvard a swift ass-kicking without even exerting much effort--deflowering a couple of randy virgins and then selling videotapes of the encounter, digging up the corpse of President John Quincy Adams for potting soil, and generally putting the snooty professors and unhip white kids in their place, with plenty of time in-between for smoking reams of dope.
Director Jesse Dylan, son of Bob Dylan and already a successful director of commercials and music videos, plays everything by the numbers, with little visual elaboration and only the slightest hints of any form of controlling intelligence behind the camera. He is more than content to simply allow the drug-laced buffoonery to play out in front of the camera, sloppily or otherwise, leaving much of the work up to Method Man and Redman, who do what they can, but are working with virtually no characters of any kind, not even decent caricatures. They deliver their lines with the requisite stoner gusto, but it's all to little avail.
This is not to say that How High doesn't have a few moments of hilarity, including Spalding Gray as an oh-so-white African-American history professor who is more militant than most '60s radicals and yet still manages to look like the most unhip person on the face of the earth. There are also a few choice moments involving a spindly and overeager volunteer bike patrol geek who gets more than his share of humiliations. Overall, though, the movie gives one the impression that the title should have come with a question mark, thus indicating the real quandary: "How high does one have to be to find all this funny?"
|How High DVD|
|Audio||English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround|
English DTS 5.1 Surround
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, French|
|Distributor||Universal Home Video|
|Release Date||May 21, 2002|
| 1.85:1 (Anamorphic) |
All in all, this is a good anamorphic transfer. The movie was originally shot on digital video, which gives it a slightly less film-like appearance, although there was no noticeable pixelation or artifacting. Colors were strong and natural, and the image was well-detailed, if just slightly soft at times.
|English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1 Surround|
Both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 surround soundtracks are not quite as aggressive as one might expect. Both soundtracks are largely front-heavy with not much in the way of surround effects except for when music is playing (which includes tunes by Method Man, Redman, DMX, Ludacris, and Saliva), at which time the bass levels kick in and the effects become much more immersive.
| Audio commentary by stars Method Man and Redman|
If you're fans of Method Man and Redman, you will likely enjoy their laid back, free-style audio commentary. It has its moments, but it won't tell you much about the production (except for details like how Method Man hated having the man in charge of continuity constantly touching his clothes and how their favorite part of the movie is the jokey commercial for Porkchops-O-Chunky).
"The Making of How High" Featurette
"Hide the Stash" Game
Two Music Videos: Method Man and Redman's "Part II" and Jonell and Method Man's "Round and Round Remix"
Cast and Filmmakers
Script to Screen (DVD-ROM)
Copyright © 2002 James Kendrick