dvd review: HALF BAKED, HOW HIGH, CB4 and TRIPPIN'

Chances are pretty good that if you are a fan of any of the films offered in the Quadruple Feature Comedy Pack—and those films would be Half Baked, How High, Trippin’ and CB4—you probably already own them on DVD. And while four films for a cost of approximately $20 may seem like a bargain, don’t be so quick to spend your money. Sure, you get four films for about $5 each, but only Half Baked is remotely close to being worth owning, and this version doesn’t have any of the bonus features loaded on the solo version.

With the prophesized death of DVD, it seems studios will repackage product in as many ways possible, just with the hope of getting another few dollars out of consumers before the format goes belly up. And even if DVD doesn’t die, we’re still likely to see a continuous repackaging of old catalog titles by studios, as they hope to keep selling the same old nonsense over and over again—which leads us to the Quadruple Feature Comedy Pack.

Half Baked—Before he launched one of the funniest sketch comedy shows in television history, Dave Chappelle starred in this perennial pothead favorite as Thurgood Jenkins, a stoner living in New York City with his three best friends from childhood, and a nameless guy on the couch. Thurgood spends his days working as a janitor, and his evening getting blissfully high with his friends Scarface (Guillermo Diaz), Kenny (Harland Williams) and Brian (Jim Breuer). But when Kenny accidentally kills a police horse while he’s out buying munchies, it is up to Thurgood and the others to get him out of jail. It takes a while, but they decide to start selling the pharmaceutical marijuana used by the company Thurgood works for, which leads them into a rivalry with fellow dope dealer Samson Simpson (Clarence Williams III). Meanwhile, Thurgood falls in love with Mary Jane Potman (Rachel True), the daughter of a convicted pot dealer who hates anything that has to do with marijuana.

Not exactly the best stoner film of all time, Half Baked is, none the less, the best of the films in this quadruple feature. The script, co-written by Chappelle and Neal Brennan is pure lowbrow comedy, but it is consistently funny, with more than a few laugh-out-loud moments. Chappelle carries the film, and fans of his show will see what is essentially him laying the groundwork for his hit series.

How High—The other stoner comedy of this quadruple feature stars Wu-Tang members Method Man and Redman as Silas and Jamal, two life-long friends who find their intelligence increases when they smoke pot grown using the ashes of their dead friend in the soil. With their improved intelligence, they get into Harvard, but find that they must keep smoking to remain smart. And if that sounds stupid to you, rest assured that it is as stupid as it sounds. The jokes are as obvious as they are forced, and plot is as contrived as it is predictable, which is bad enough, but the real problem is that the film simply isn’t that funny. Sure it has its moments, but not nearly enough to make you want to watch this thing more than once—and certainly not if you haven’t gotten stoned first.

Trippin’—Deon Richmond started out as a child actor, most recognizable for his recurring role as Kenny on The Cosby Show, and while he was good for a laugh or two on that show, the same can’t be said for this silly teen comedy. Richmond stars as Gregory “G” Reed, a high school senior prone to elaborate fantasies and daydreams (hence the title of the film). G’s fantasies run the gamut, with him seeing himself as a great poet, action hero, ladies man and even successful college student, but in reality he’s pretty close to being a complete loser. He hasn’t gotten his act together enough to get into college, and he’s too much of a wussy to ask the girl of his dreams, Cinny (Maia Campbell), to the prom. Meanwhile, his best friend June (Donald Faison), the school womanizer, finds himself running afoul of local gangster Kenyatta (Stoney Jackson). This all leads to a series of jokes that fall flat as G romances Cinny, while helping June deal with Kenyatta.

I had forgotten how incredibly unfunny Trippin’ was until I sat down to watch it again, and found myself writhing in pain. In one scene, while eating breakfast with the rest of his family, G has a fantasy about getting it on with a hot woman. As he licks her boobs in his fantasy, he snaps out of it to find himself licking the eggs on his plate. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for comedy in this lamebrain nonsense. The only things that make this film even remotely worth watching are the naked breasts in the aforementioned fantasy sequence and Bill Henderson’s performance as G’s grandfather. Unfortunately, there is not enough of either to make this film worth your time.

CB4—Chris Rock co-wrote this mockumentary about legendary gangsta rap group CB4. Rock stars as Albert, a loser who reinvents himself as MC Gusto, and along with his friends Dead Mike (Allen Payne) and Stab Master Arson (Deezer D), finds fame, popularity and riches by catering to the lowest common denominator. But even with fame and fortune comes problems, and soon, CB4 must face everything from internal strife, to the real-life Gusto (Charlie Murphy), who isn’t too happy with someone stealing his persona.

CB4 is one of those films with a ton of potential that never even comes close to living up to its promise. For one thing, Rock is not a strong enough actor to carry the film. Second, even though the film is presented as a mockumentary, it is not. As a rule, I can’t stand mockumentaries that do not maintain consistency throughout. CB4, while starting out as a fake documentary, quickly and frequently shifts gears, jumping around from ridiculous farce to silly satire, never knowing what it wants to be. What works are the songs, which are the funniest part of a film that is not that funny. Fear of a Black Hat, which in and of itself isn’t all that great, is still a far superior comedy.

I hadn’t seen CB4 or Trippin’ since they came out in 1993 and 1999, respectively. Neither of them was that good when I saw them, but I was willing to reconsider them both after all of these years. Big mistake. Neither film has gotten better with age, nor can I say that my life has been enriched from watching either. Nor was I enriched watching How High again. That leaves us with Half Baked, which is the only film in this set worth repeated viewings.

Advertisements

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: