2001, R, 92 min. Directed by Jesse Dylan. Starring Method Man, Redman, Obba Babatundé, Anna Maria Horsford, Fred Willard, Mike Epps, Spalding Gray, Jeffrey Jones, Hector Elizondo.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Dec. 28, 2001
Pot comedy. Let's concede at the outset that artistic immortality is not what this subgenre of filmmaking is after. Pot comedies aim for more fleeting responses -- they're willing to ignite, inhale, and then evaporate in a puff of smoke. They needn't be the sharpest wit on the block, nor the most refined. Silliness is a plus, and drug-referential in-jokes are required. So where does that leave How High? The answer is: well below the barre. How High meets the required minimum dosage of feature-film attributes, and then nods out when it comes to going any further. Feebly crafted in virtually every way imaginable -- directing, cinematography, acting, scriptwriting -- How High coasts along on its "happy" humor and remains too mired in the haze to even notice that its title is sorely missing a question mark. Grammarian complaints aside, How High is so low that it would even be a stretch to accuse it of mediocrity. The dynamic duo of rap music, Method Man and Redman, co-star as a couple of ne'er-do-wells from Staten Island who toke their deceased pothead friend's ashes by mistake and get accepted into Harvard with perfect test scores on the entrance exam. All goes well until their magic pot plant vanishes. The movie lurches along with only the bare minimum of narrative activity plotted in, and even here the compositions and hazy details make various actions seem more vague than necessary. The film is the first feature outing by acclaimed music video and commercial director, Jesse Dylan (son of Bob). One might think that someone with his pedigree might have selected a more auspicious project for his debut, but maybe it's a sign of what the old man meant when he sang, "Everybody must get stoned."