Sundance 2010 Review: HIGH SCHOOL
Directed By: John Stalberg
Starring: Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks, Sean Marqutte, Matt Burke
So it’s the end of the school year, and smarmy Principal Gordon (Michael Chiklis) has suddenly instituted a zero-tolerance crusade against his nemesis, the reviled marijuana. A mandatory drug test for all students is to be administered, failure of which will result in immediate expulsion. Normally, this would be of no consequence to straight-arrow valedictorian Henry Burke, except he just tried ganja for the very first time. With his college scholarship hanging in the balance, Burke begrudgingly teams up with charismatic pothead Travis Breaux to do the only thing they can think of to neutralize this threat—get the entire student body stoned.
The movie is just as good as it sounds! I had such a great time watching this film, it was just a fun high school comedy adventure, and it hits all the right notes as it plays out. The movie definitely has the makings of being a classic comedy film, one of those movies that people will watch for years to come and quote lines from. It’s got that same feel as many other classic High School films, but this one takes things down a hysterically darker road. The movie was extremely funny, and it had me and the audience laughing through most of the film.
The story and script, written by Eric Linthorst, John Stalberg Jr, and Stephen Susco, were absolutely fantastic. The film is full of quotable dialogue that is clever and hilarious. As soon as the movie started I was automatically hooked, and laughing my ass off. It sets the perfect tone for the rest of the film.
I absolutely loved the characters in this story! There was not one boring character in the film, they all had fun and unique personalities. We know these personalities, we’ve all seen them and I think most of us can relate to what some of the characters are going through. One of the greatest characters in this film was Psycho Ed, played by Adrien Brody, who was awesome in the role! I honestly believe it is his best performance since The Pianist. This is a role we’ve never seen him in before, the guy is a crazy badass who is freakin' hilarious. What makes this character even more interesting is that fact that he’s based on an actual person that the director met at a party in Colorado. He says, “the inspiration for the character of Psycho Ed showed up at a friend of a friend’s barbecue one day, holding a glass jar of crystalline powder protectively in his hands. Lit by the overhead red bulb, he announced to all the shady characters present that the jar contained the pure THC crystals reaped from an entire harvest of his scientifically home grown chronic.” He then ended up getting everyone high.
Psycho Ed pretty much inspired this movie, and the director built a story around him that involves two completely opposite high school kids that used to be friends when they were younger, but grew apart. The story plays with the awkward tension of these faded relationships and how these former childhood friends had to see each other everyday in high school. This concept intrigued the director and he thought it would add a nice dynamic to the film.
I think Michael Chiklis’ character as the schools principal is the most over-the-top character in the film. You’ve never seen Chiklis in a role like this before, and it was really weird seeing him in it, but it worked, and he did a fine job. Everyone else in the movie were great as well.
High School is one of the better films that I’ve seen at Sundance this year. The best way to describe this movie is it's like The Breakfast Club, Superbad, GO, and Oceans 11 all rolled into one. This was a great great film, and I can’t wait for all of you to eventually get to see it. I have a feeling you’ll really enjoy this movie.