High School


Its opening shots replete with heavily fetishized close-ups of kids taking hits off joints and its dialogue peppered with lines like, “Getting high . . . it’s like freedom,” John Stalberg Jr.’s dismal stoner comedy does little to inject any sense of joy or laughter into its depiction of teenage pot antics. When soon-to-be valedictorian Henry (Matt Bush) is goaded by “stoner flunky” Breaux (Sean Marquette) into taking his first toke, the timing couldn’t be worse. The principal of their SoCal high school has declared an all-out war on the “sticky green,” which means random drug tests for the entire school and the certain expulsion of both kids. Not to worry, because Breaux hits on the idea of robbing drug dealer Psycho Ed (a cornrowed and incredibly tweaked-out Adrien Brody) and dosing the brownies at the school bake sale with high-grade dope to even the playing field. All of this is remarkably cheerless, and somehow the prospect of an entire student body and faculty baked off their gourds fails to generate even perfunctory laughter. There’s a certain relentlessness to the film’s stoned vibe that gets under your skin, but it’s far from enough to make up for the project’s dreary mirthlessness. Andrew Schenker