HIGH School

HIGH School


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The flood of Eighties nostalgia high school films shows no signs of slowing - last year brought us the heavily John-Hughes' influenced Bart Got A Room and Stay Cool, and here John Stalberg filters the genre through a cloud of marijuana smoke. The debut feature director creates the sort of teenage mash-up that might happen if Cheech and Chong ran (or, more likely, staggered) headlong into Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Henry (Matt Bush) is a straight-A student and potential valedictorian, who looks to be laughing all the way to MIT. That is until a pal from his youth, Travis Breaux (Sean Marquette) - now a stoner and revelling in his dropout credentials - encourages him to give the evil weed a spin. Sadly, due to a spelling bee star being caught out on the wrong sort of grass, the school's principal (an unercognisable toupe-topped and moustachioed Michael Chiklis) decides to drug test everyone in the building. Those who aren't clean, will be kicked clean out. It seems the only way to save the day is to get the whole school high... but first they have to steal some drugs from the local psycho drug dealer (Adrien Brody).

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Despite its stoner credentials, HIGH School thrives on speed. The plot is on the skinny side, but it rips along at such a rate that there is barely any time to consider its failings. The joke quotient is high - both physical and verbal - and if a few of the fall a little flat you'll hardly notice in the adrenaline rush inspired by the rest.

Stalberg (who surely must be credited with the funniest film website url this year) has a loose, mischevious attitude behind the camera, from the film's smokey credits to a wonderful pastiche on the sort of turgid 'educational don't-do-drugs films' we all know and hate. The film thrives on playing with familiar archetypes, the squeaky clean, versus the stoner, the stuck up, versus the slob - and the actors really sell it. Brody - stripped to the waist, and with every inch of him that isn't covered in hair, layered in tattoos - has the time of his life as the stoned out Psycho Ed and proves his comic credentials are up with the best of them, particularly in his character's stoned out conversations with a frog. Chiklis, meanwhile, transforms himself completely as the stuck up school principal, and the chemistry between Bush and Marquette is right on the nail.

Utterly irreverent but with the age-old principle of the importance of friendship lying at its heart, HIGH School has a feel-good buzz that is distinctly addictive.

Reviewed on: 11 Jun 2010
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When a drug test coincides with a valedictorian's first hit of pot, there's only one solution... get the whole school high.
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Director: John Stalberg Jr

Writer: Erik Linthorst, John Stalberg Jr, Stephen Susco

Starring: Sean Marquette, Matt Bush, Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks, Mykelti Williamson, Andrew Wilson, Yeardley Smith, Michael Vartan, Curtis Armstrong, Erica Phillips, Adhir Kaylan

Year: 2010

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: US

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