HIGH School -- Film Review



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PARK CITY -- "HIGH School" wins the Cheech & Chong lifetime achievement award for pot head humor, which should translate into a smart stash at the boxoffice.

Filmmaker John Stalberg Jr. has crammed together a neo-"Ridgemont High" assault on adult authority figures and high school idiocy and, under the radar, has cribbed in some subversive satire.

In this roasted outing, it's the end of the school year at Martin High and overachiever Henry (Matt Bush) has, uncharacteristically gotten stoned. In line to be class valedictorian, he's blind-sided when the principal (Michael Chiklis) launches an anti-weed campaign, scheduling a urine test for all the school. This is one test that Henry is not going to ace. Inspired by the class loser (Sean Marquette), he colludes to get the entire school stoned and thereby mask his own test.

Ripping with broad comedy and anti-establishment jabs, "HIGH School" is a loud hoot. Crisply structured and cranked to full speed, it's antic hilarity is a credit to the screenwriters (Erik Linthorst, Stalberg, Stephen Susco) who've laced a low-brow amusement with wacky intelligence and properly immature accelerants.

In the Sean Penn role as class pot head, Sean Marquette is hilarious, while Matt Bush is sympathetic as the beleaguered class-brain Henry. Chiklis is convincing as the uptight, hypocritical principal. Cast valedictorian goes to Adrien Brody for his ferocious portrayal of a paranoid drug dealer.

Tech credits are smartly realized, with special plaudits to Marie France for the wack range of high-school costumery.

Venue: Sundance Film Festival, Park City at Midnight
Production: Parallel Media in association with Golden Ring International
No rating, 93 minutes