High School is the kind of movie that if put into the wrong hands could have been unbearably, unwatchably, mind-numbingly stupid. In the right hands, this material could actually be laugh-out-loud, hold your sides funny. This first trailer, I think, falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, with just enough laughs to make me want to see more.
The premise: Henry (Matt Bush – Nice Guy Johnny), a straight-arrow with dreams of going to MIT, is talked into smoking his very first joint with his best friend Travis (Sean Marquette), a complete waste-oid. Now, we won’t go into why these two would be best buds without Henry ever having gotten high before the needed setup for this movie. Perhaps it’s explained. Letting that go, it seems that the stick-up-his-ass principal of the school, played by Michael Chiklis in a hilarious wig and waaaaay against type, is so anti-dope that he’s having the entire school take a drug test. This of course, right after our hero Henry has inhaled for the first time. Good-bye MIT.
The solution? Get the whole school high. This is the real jumping off point for the comedy hi-jinks that ensue.
What will undoubtedly be the best reason to see this movie: Psycho Ed, the local drug dealer played with bug-eyed, dread-locked, tattooed, glee by Adrien Brody. (I could watch the bit with the frog over and over. “What?”) Ironic that High School is finally being released just after Brody's turn as a teacher hanging on by a thread in a very different movie, Detachment.
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This film, directed by John Stahlberg, Jr. (who didn’t do much before High School, but does have three projects due out in 2013), premiered at Sundance in January 2010, to great acclaim, then went on to play festivals all over the world the rest of that year, but it’s been looking for distribution ever since. Starz/Anchor Bay has stepped up and will unleash it to theaters on June 1 in the US. With a supporting cast that includes Colin Hanks (in what looks like a variation of the Edie McClurg role in Ferris Bueller), Mykelti Williamson, Michael Vartan, Yeardley Smith, Andrew Wilson and Curtis Armstrong (of course), I maintain that this has potential. If it doesn’t find an audience in the theater, it definitely will on dvd.