Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks, Matt Bush, Sean Marquette, Adhir Kalyan, Cody Longo, Mykelti Williamson, Yeardley Smith, Michael Vartan, Curtis Armstrong, Luis Chávez, Alicia Sixtos, Max Van Ville, Mary Birdsong
Written by: John Stalberg, Erik Linthorst, John Stalberg Jr.
Directed by: John Stalberg
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive drugs and language, crude and sexual content, some nudity - all involving teens
Running Time: 99
Date: 01/24/2010

High School (2012)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Acing Smokin'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director John Stalberg makes his feature debut on this low-key, but likeable drug comedy, which borrows from many other movies (National Lampoon's Animal House, Superbad, Pineapple Express, etc.), but still has its own spirit. Though it's not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, runs a bit long, and grows a little lethargic in its final third, it's still mildly amusing. 

Henry Burke (Matt Bush) is a top high school student on track to become valedictorian and a prime candidate for MIT. That is, until his childhood best friend, Travis Breaux (Sean Marquette), encourages him to try smoking pot for the first time. The next day, the upright school principal (Michael Chiklis) announces mandatory drug testing, with automatic expulsion for guilty parties. 

Travis cooks up a plan to save the distraught Henry; they will make pot brownies and sell them at the school bake sale, so that everyone will fail the drug test together. Their first step is to steal the required ingredients from a demented drug dealer (Adrien Brody), but that's only the beginning of a long, harrowing, and hazy day. (One of its best and longest running jokes has the confused characters asking each other, "what?" again and again.)

Oddly, though this movie features the typical lame adult characters, Michael Chiklis steals scenes as the principal, while Adrien Brody as a psychotic drug dealer steals many others. Their combined bizarre antics give the rather ordinary teens something to react to. The movie seems to condone drug use as a way to loosen up and see life for what it really is; the good guys don't really pay a price for their deeds. It will be up to viewers to decide whether the likable teens are actually good characters.

Anchor Bay's Blu-ray looks very good given the film's grungy, low-budget look. Extras include a commentary track by John Stalberg, Jr., 12 minutes of deleted scenes, and a trailer.

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