High School Blu-ray Review
High school stoner comedies, much like high school sex comedies, are a very easy genre to screw up. one wrong turn or misguided focus and your movie goes from memorable, pop-culture inspiring classic to a straight to video embarrassment. So whenever a lesser known, raunchy high school film comes along, I proceed with caution. There are only so many American Pie and National Lampoon disasters a man can take, so imagine my relief when HIGH SCHOOL turned out to be a fun time.
As he’s about to graduate as valedictorian of his high school class, Henry (Matt Bush) smokes a joint with one of his old buddies, Travis (Sean Marquette). As luck would have it, his moment of indiscretion is the night before a surprise drug test administered by the school’s dean, Dr. Gordon (played wonderfully by an unrecognizable Michael Chiklis). Stressed out and paranoid, the two kids steal some high powered marijuana from Psycho Ed (Adrien Brody) and bake up some brownies that they end up giving to the entire school. The theory being that if everyone tests positive, no one will get in trouble.
The basic premise of two kids trying to get their entire school high on pot is enough to keep the film going, but the wonderful turns from the supporting cast is what makes it entertaining. Michael Chiklis, Adrien Brody and Colin Hanks all add another dimension to the film and if you look closely, you can see some funny moments from Mykelti Williamson, Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) and a completely unrecognizable Michael Vartan. They had small roles, but their inclusion added a little something to HIGH SCHOOL that really helped the film.
What surprised me the most about HIGH SCHOOL was the production quality. I know that sounds silly to point out the production quality of a stoner movie, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. Everything from the video quality to the talented direction made me think that director John Stalberg and cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen have greater things ahead of them. A little research uncovered that Amundsen has a tone of experience working with directors like Paul Greengrass, Michael Bay and Gore Verbinski. Clearly, he picked up some tricks and utilized them in HIGH SCHOOL as I was constantly impressed with the creativity found in simple shots.
If there’s a problem with the film, it was with the ending, which dragged on a little too long. We all knew it was going to be wrapped up nicely and end on a high note, so there was no need to drag it out. The film also could have used a few more laugh out loud moments. It had its fair share, but with a comedy of this nature, it needed more to keep the audience engaged.
If you like drug related humor and a little gratuitous nudity, HIGH SCHOOL is a movie worth checking out. The basic premise and the wonderful supporting cast make this a film that should have no trouble finding an audience on Blu-ray.
Video: You don’t normally expect top notch video quality from an Anchor Bay release, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well HIGH SCHOOL looked. Overall, a great transfer.
Audio: The audio seemed muted at times and was a little disappointing. It’s not that the film needed a great audio track, but there were moments that could have taken advantage of it, but the disk wasn’t up to it.
Commentary with John Stalberg: Stalberg talks about all aspects of making HIGH SCHOOL and provides an enjoyable commentary, especially for those interested in making films or fans of his movie. Stalberg seems like an intelligent guy that really knows his movies.
Deleted scenes (12:30): Most of these are instantly forgettable and since I felt the movie was a little too long to begin with, I agree with the decision to cut them.
Given the cast and the subject matter, I’m disappointed we don’t have a gag reel.