In the interest of full disclosure, I really hate stoner movies. There’s nothing more odious to me than the idea that a film was made with the entire purpose of entertaining a demographic whose idea of mindblowing comedy is jingling their keys or farting twice in a row. Comedy to me is a fine art, something practiced and refined; if you don’t believe me, look at the years successful stand-up comedians spend working their way through the no-man’s-land of crappy comedy clubs until they start acting or writing. To get up and have the courage not just to try, but to bomb (and you WILL bomb, it’s going to happen at some point) is a tremendous exercise not only in learning, but in character.
Which is why this movie disappointed me so. Anna Faris has definitely paid her dues in the comedy salt mines, which is why a role like this is beneath her. Faris plays Jane, an out of work actress. After smoking her usual morning’s bowl, she accidentally eats her room mate’s pot-laced brownies before realizing she has several tasks she must complete that day: she must pay the electric bill, pay off her dealer so he doesnt’ take her furniture, and go to an acting audition–all of which are transformed into herculean tasks by the amounts of pot she’s ingested.She seems to have a background in economics, no doubt the filmmaker’s attempt to give her character some depth, but the theories she spouts just sound like what they are: lazy writing.
What follows is a meandering exercise in stoner comedy. At the audition the other actresses are meticulously dressed and coiffed–Jane is slovenly in unwashed jeans, no makeup and lank hair. Her audition is with grim casting director Jane Lynch, who is always a treat except when she’s wasted in films like these–I hope doing this movie was a way to finish paying for renovating her kitchen or something.
Krasinski enters the scene as a friend of Jane’s room mate who, due to his attraction to her (what’s not to like? the not-showering, the constant smell of pot and sweat, the directionless lifestyle) she manipulates into driving her to Venice beach so she can pay off her dealer. She manages to get Krasinski’s wallet stolen, gives the investigating office a false name, then runs away in a paranoia fit and hides in her old professor’s house. Krasinski’s character is another lazy stereotype I hate: the guy into RPGs and comics who is desperately in love with a girl because she’s the only one he can get and he has no experience with women. I AM one of those people and am here to tell you that there’s no shortage of women into sci-fi and games, if you know where to look.
There’s really no more point to discussing the rest of the movie: crazy stuff happens, Jane gets her comeuppance, and sort of learns a lesson. The film is sprinkled with actors all worth much more than this sort of film: John Cho, Danny Trejo, the aforementioned Lynch, Danny Masterson, Brian Posehn, Michael Hitchcock, the voice of Roscoe Lee Brown (the narrator from Babe) and even Carrot Top all make appearances, leading me to suspect they thought they were appearing in a film that might make an argument for the legalization of pot.
I’m all for its legalization–there are slews of reasons in its favor, such as reducing the prison population, a new source of revenue and international tourism. But none of those arguments are made by this film. The closest thing to an argument that can be made is ‘high people are mostly harmless,’ and even taht’s a stretch considering the trail of destruction Jane leaves behind. This is the sort of script I didn’t let students write when I worked at a film school–it’s a lazy script, with no imagination and nothing fun. Worst of all, it’s just flat out not funny. The characters are too pathetic to identify with, and Jane, as a blond skinny white girl, just reminds me how much I hate self-centered people.