Two overachieving high school girls suddenly lament their “good girl” status shortly before graduating and decide to mix it up with some raucous hijinks before it’s too late. No, it’s not Olivia Wilde’s acclaimed Booksmart, but rather Laura Terruso’s raunchy comedy Good Girls Get High, which, while not benefiting from the comparison, offers more than enough silly, freewheeling pleasures of its own. Besides, there needs to be more femme-oriented counterparts to the plethora of juvenile frat-boy comedies that have long littered our screens.
The story revolves around best friends Sam (Abby Quinn, Landline) and Danielle (Stefanie Scott, Insidious: Chapter 3), who have just been named in their school’s yearbook as its “Biggest Good Girls.” The seemingly pejorative label isn’t exactly inaccurate, since both have long dedicated themselves to academic and wholesome extracurricular pursuits.
Danielle is particularly horrified by the designation, arguing to Sam that they need to break loose in their final days of school to avoid being pigeonholed for the rest of their lives. Sam has bigger things on her mind, namely her application to Harvard. She discovers that she’s been accepted, but is forced to turn down the offer because of the dire financial straits of her father (Matt Besser) who owns a failing ice cream shop. Danielle, whose more modest aspirations involve going to state school, unexpectedly gets into Harvard as well, leaving Sam in an emotional tailspin.
Discovering a joint belonging to Sam’s father, the two girls decide to get seriously stoned on their last night before graduation. Cue the inevitable hijinks, some of which take place at an out-of-control party where Sam uses her scientific skills to create the world’s largest bong. Danielle, meanwhile, sets her sights on the hunky classmate of her dreams (Booboo Stewart, whose name leads you to wonder just how much teasing he endured as a child), with whom she soon has the opportunity to lose her virginity. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t go well, for reasons that may lead some of the young target audience to look up the word “queefing.”
Sam also has a romantic obsession, with a science teacher referred to only as “Mr. D.” (Danny Pudi), whom she frequently imagines saying romantic things to her while flying overhead clad in his underwear. More problematically, she accidentally sends him a provocative text which she desperately attempts to prevent him from seeing.
It’s all fairly standard-issue stuff for this sort of teen comedy, to be sure. There are some hackneyed plot devices, such as Sam confessing her feelings to a video camera in the manner that seems obligatory to contemporary teen comedies. And its depiction of the effects of pot smoking falls only slightly below Reefer Madness in its exaggeratedness. But director Terruso (Fits and Starts) and her co-screenwriter Jennifer Nashorn Blankenship infuse the proceedings with imaginative stylistic flourishes such as surreal episodes, animated interludes (including one explaining the concept of lactose intolerance) and candy-colored visuals. There’s also a welcome emotional warmth on display, from the deep friendship between the two female protagonists to their loving interactions with their parents to their random encounters with a pregnant woman (Lauren Lapkus, always a welcome presence) who turns out to be the coolest, most laid-back cop ever.
Good Girls Get High is sweetly amusing throughout, knowing enough not to wear out its welcome thanks to its fast-paced 77-minute running time. It also benefits enormously from the highly appealing performances of its two leads who don’t seem to be faking their enjoyment during the energetic dance interlude performed during the end credits.
Production companies: Alloy Entertainment, Blue Ribbon Content, Warner Specialty Video Productions
Distributor: DIRECTV Cinema, Warner Bros.
Cast: Abby Quinn, Stefanie Scott, Lauren Lapkus, Matt Besser, Isabelle Furhman, Danny Pudi
Director: Laura Terruso
Screenwriters: Laura Terruso, Jennifer Nashorn Blakenship
Producers: Elysa Koplovitz Dutton, Leslie Morgenstein
Director of photography: Benjamin Rutkowski
Production designer: Eve McCarney
Editors: Stacey Schroeder, John Wesley Whitton
Composer: Jay Israelson
Costume designer: Lisa Norcia
Casting: Marisol Roncali, Mary Vernieu