Henry (Matt Bush) has his MIT scholarship on the line. Tempted by his grade school friend Travis Breaux (Sean Marquette) to try a joint as they visit an old hangout, Henry freaks out when he learns of a plan to drug test the entire high school the following day.
Their concocted plan? Dope up the entire student body with a stash of super pot that is defined as a level above the average score via the bake sale. High School sets a stage for total mayhem as students down the delicious mix of batter and straight THC, along with the faculty. On a finals day, it only means a total breakdown of the education system.
High School is built on a super premise for a stoner comedy, one that only survives on the off-kilter performances of Adrian Brody and Michael Chiklis in goofy make-up, complete with porn ‘stache. Brody is a genius whose life was turned sideways after an accident, forcing him into a stalwart economic force of the community, just not a legal one. He’s the supplier.
Chiklis is the school principal, with a steadfast anti-drug policy and creepy fingers with regards to his secretary. He runs the halls panicked as a tour of the school turns south -for some reason an event held during finals- the band unable to coordinate and the chess team debating why the rook looks like an elongated nipple.
High School’s comedic edge is never found, sagging as it runs through the usual gags resulting from pot use, whether it’s old ladies or straight A students. That only carries the material so far as it wanders, a couple of running gags the only real savior. A kid seeking the administration office for the entire running time is a winner, as are broken conversations that get trapped in a series of “What?”
There’s a fun contrast between the young leads, Henry and Travis believable as friends who have drifted away over time. High School tries to push them away in the vein of a romantic comedy and pull them back together a la Superbad, yet failing to land the same thematic high, pun partially intended.
Captured on film and warped into a teal & orange frenzy, High School has a smidgen of visual depth. The color palette doesn’t help, the cold walls lining the schools rather ridiculous and forced flesh tones trying for contrast the piece doesn’t need. It has plenty of that elsewhere.
Black levels are in such high demand, the detention room is rendered a black space. Shots blot out the background to create the appearance of a void, while the rest of the time they merely add stock to the appearance. Bringing out further weight is a beefy contrast that exists without blotting out any textural elements. The film works on both ends of the contrast spectrum.
This one actually carries the facade of a digital production, strikingly clear to the point that the first noticeable sequence with a grain structure seems odd. It has to be digital, right? But no, this Anchor Bay AVC encode is spot on in regards to its deconstruction of grain, while keeping the fidelity that comes along with that element. Only a spot or two makes the image appear noisy.
Close-ups are relatively consistent in their refinement, the layer of precision detail spilling over the image to make it convincing. Focus will sometimes remove the finer elements although leave a tight sharpness in place. Medium shots will collapse slightly, which is where some of the digital elements seem to be coming in, making the grain the surprise that it is.
High School has explosions, loud video games, thumping bass, swirling voices, and panning helicopters. Yes, they’re all singular elements spread across the entirety of the film, but it’s something to drive this audio mix above the standard dialogue comedy routine. In the scheme of the genre, maybe it’s even a little memorable, if a bit out of balance with those peaks.
Whatever the case, when called upon, the TrueHD mix can be substantial and clean. Elements mix together well, and directionality is spot on precise. Dialogue sticks to the center channel without any motion. Serviceable and a little more.
A string of deleted scenes (12-minutes worth) and a trailer are your bonuses.
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