Universal Pictures has worked hard to target the college audience for their latest comedy, “How High.” They held advance screenings for college newspapers to get their opinions on the film, and even had advance screenings on campuses with Method Man and Redman to promote it. However, like many movies before it that tried desperately to cater to one audience in particular, “How High” not only misses its target demographic, but misses all audiences in general.
That doesn’t mean “How High” is a horrible film. It is far from being the next Bubble Boy, and any film that can cast former “Saved by the Bell” fashion queen Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle for you Bayside High fans) receives some sort of nod of approval from me. Still, for a 90-minute comedy one would expect a few more laughs than the two or three viewers will experience while watching the film.
“How High” almost seems like Legally Blonde meets “Half Baked” at first glance. It’s the story of two inner city teenagers, Jamal (Redman) and Silas (Method Man), who discover a special form of weed that, when smoked, increases one’s intelligence. The two smoke the plant right before their college entrance exams and end up acing the test. Before they know it, every university in the world wants to admit them into their school — including Harvard.
Needless to say — because this is a fish out of water story — the inner city kids go to Harvard, feel out of place and try to make it more like home. Furthermore, since this is a comedy, the two lose the special plant right before finals and try smoking various other things (including the body of a dead president) in attempts to become smart again. Where the story goes from here you can probably guess. There’s something about a giant, ancient bong, a pimp who teaches Pimpology and two slutty girls (who claim they are virgins) making their own version of “Girls Gone Wild” to pay off their tuition bills.
In other words, the story just goes downhill.
While the idea of two stoners stumbling their way into Harvard and trying to make the grade could have had its share of laughs, screenwriters Dustin Lee Abraham and Brad Kaaya manage to avoid humor altogether and replace it with cheap gags, like dropping Cheetos on an expensive rug. Furthermore, even though “How High” should be a no-brainer to understand, poor editing makes the story difficult to follow. Scenes are so randomly thrown together that one may wonder if key plot points were cut out of the film just to get it down to a 90-minute running time. This not only takes away from the story as its being told, but also causes viewers to leave the theater still trying to make sense of what they saw on-screen.
This is sad since Method Man and Redman do a fair job acting in the film, or at least decent as far as rapper-turned-actors are concerned. Given what they had to work with, Method Man and Redman bring the characters to life the best they can and really try to make their characters people viewers can relate to. Unfortunately, the script would need some major re-writing (like 50 pages or so) for audiences to really care about Jamal and Silas. No matter how hard Method Man and Redman work at making audiences cheer for their characters, by the end of the movie viewers could care less whether Jamal and Silas graduate from Harvard or get kicked out– just so long as the film is finished.
While “How High” could have been a fun comedy college students could watch over and over again, it instead plays like a bad USA movie of the week. The jokes aren’t funny, the characters aren’t fully developed and poor editing only makes a humorless story confusing. The only thing missing from “How High” that may have kept its target audience’s eyes on the screen is excessive T&A, and, similar to the USA movie it resembles, it’s missing that, too.