How High

Movie Information

Genre: Comedy
Director: Jesse Dylan
Starring: Method Man, Redman, Lark Voorhies, Fred Willard, Spalding Gray, Jeffrey Jones
Rated: R

What in the name of all that’s holy is this? Why is Danny DeVito one of the producers of this ill-conceived mess? What are name actors like Fred Willard, Jeffrey Jones, Hector Elizondo and Spalding Gray doing in this film? What made Bob Dylan’s son think he could direct a film? Why is a movie like this coming from a major studio? Did anyone responsible for the bizarre and witless fiasco that is How High screen this film without benefit of mind-altering enhancement? I can’t actually answer any of those questions, but I’d at least like to believe that no rational, unstoned human being actually thought this was a good idea. Let’s just look at the premise — Silas (Method Man) and Jamal (Redman) partake of some smokable contraband that has somehow been grown with the ashes of Silas’ late friend, Ivory (Chuck Davis), and allows Ivory’s ghost to appear to them and help them ace a college entry exam, which lands them in no less an institute of higher learning than Harvard. Do you really need to know more than this? Do you really want to? Do you want to see our “heroes” exhume the corpse of John Quincy Adams (“a smart dead guy”) with an eye toward smoking his remains in an effort to get further ghostly help in getting through school when the Ivory-laced dope runs out? Believe it or not, this actually is a part of How High’s plot — along with the idea that Ben Franklin invented America’s first bong. It’s as bad as it sounds and even more irresponsible. No, it’s not quite Pootie Tang bad. At least How High has something of the look of a professional film. It’s even sporadically outrageous enough to be fitfully amusing. Plus, believe it or not, Method Man and Redman are both innately likable performers. But none of this is enough to make the film even watchable, let alone good. Everything else to one side, the script meanders all over the place. Gags and situations are set up and then seemingly forgotten (is it possible for a film to suffer from short-term memory loss?). It has all the grace and distinction of a misogynistic and racist rap song, but it’s all dressed up as comedy. If you’re in the market for an antidote to the big Christmas releases, I suppose this might fill the bill, but I suspect even the late Mr. Scrooge would find it a bit much.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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