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Quint checks out the stoner comedy HIGH School at Sundance 2010! Whut?

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here bright eyed and bushy tailed after 5 hours of sleep (an embarrassment of riches for Sundance) with my thoughts on the stoner comedy HIGH School that premiered at the fest last night.

The highest compliment I can pay this movie is it feels like an ‘80s comedy, populated by an ensemble telling a simple story with a ton of likable characters. And there is a lot of weed. A lot. Of weed. The midnight premiere audience went nuts for the movie and cheered at the copious amounts of illegal substances, but the feeling I got was they were also drawn in by a movie that puts its focus on pure entertainment. At least I was. The movie is just plain old fun, thanks mostly to the very smart casting choices from director John Stalberg. Nobody plays their usual role here… Michael Chiklis is more like Milton from OFFICE SPACE than Vic Mackey as the uptight school principal, Colin Hanks is his slightly less uptight, but still square assistant principal, Adrien Brody is a tweaked out drug dealer with full body tattoos and cornrows that answers to the name Psycho Ed and Matt Bush is the straight man, not the ball-punching friend type like his character in ADVENTURELAND.

Adrien Brody steals this film from some really funny motherfuckers. Psycho Ed will be quoted by geeks and jocks alike in schools and colleges across the country if this film can break through even just a little bit. Already Sundancers are calling out "Whut?" back and forth to each other on the shuttle buses. Like most great stoner/high school comedies the premise is simple and the complications come from the crazy characters either fucking up or staying one step ahead of the square baddies. In this film Matt Bush plays a high school senior an inch away from being valedictorian. He’s a shoe-in, but his childhood buddy (Sean Marquette) is now a big doper and talks him into taking a drag on a joint and the very next day the school’s principal institutes mandatory drug tests, promising expulsion to anyone who doesn’t pass. So Bush’s choices are simple. Either he finds a way to beat the test or he has to find a way to make everybody fail. You’d think finding someone else’s piss or something would be the easy choice, but instead the two geniuses decide it’d be easier steal some raw THC crystals from the crazy twitchy drug dealer, bake a shit ton of brownies and swap them out with the bake sale goodies at school the day of the drug tests. But it’s much funnier to do it the complicated way and watch the two leads try to keep their heads above water as the entire school around them gets higher and higher with each brownie they eat… all while a crazy pissed off Adrien Brody hunts them down.

Marquette and Bush work very well together and show a lot of promise as comedic actors, but I gotta say this movie really does belong to the supporting cast. Chiklis, Brody, Colin Hanks and Booger himself, Curtis Armstrong, all take the movie from being a passable stoner comedy to a genuinely funny and entertaining movie. Oh, and Yeardly Smith (Lisa Simpson!) is in it, which rocks. I fully expect this one to be picked up… I just hope it doesn’t go the same tortured route as ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT, another really funny Sundance high school comedy that I saw in 2008 that ended up disappearing before being dumped to video. Stalberg said at the Q&A that he thought about doing a college city tour with the movie as well. Whatever develops distribution-wise we’ll be sure to let you know.

Hope to get one more review pumped out tonight before crashing so my body will let me wake up for my early morning screening of The Extra Man. As always, you can follow me on Twitter to get my as-it-happens thoughts and updates while on my Sundance adventure! -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

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