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Wednesday, December 26, 2001

How High

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Remember this?

Cheech Marin: (Knock, knock, knock).
Tommy Chong: Who is it?
Cheech: It’s me, Dave. Open up, man. I got the stuff.
Chong: Who?
Cheech: Dave, man! Open up! I think the cops saw me coming here.
Chong: Dave?
Cheech: Yeah, man, D-
Chong: Dave’s not here!

It was Cheech and Chong, the stereotypically Chicano duo who served up laughs to a captivated cult following in a slew of feature films during the ’70s. They knew nature’s way of saying “high,” and never hesitated to enjoy a good spliff. The comic chemistry Cheech and Chong shared on-screen was fluid and always good for mindless yucks.

History always repeats itself. Veteran rappers Method Man & Redman are the latest recording artists to throw their hats in the acting ring with How High. Because both men are known connoisseurs of fine roots and herbs, weaving weed into the plot is a no-brainer. Hence the two, as Silas and Jamal, smoke some magic trees that boosts their IQs and land them both at Harvard University.

It’s not impossible to make a script about weed funny. You can watch a wasted relative at the next family gathering, write down his antics and you’ve got a decent slapstick comedy. The success of How High depends on a few more technical questions. Can Method Man and Redman actually act? Does their studio chemistry translate to film? Is the supporting cast a good compliment to them?

The answers are yes, yes and yes, with a question or two. Method Man as Silas the marijuana “scientist,” and Redman as Jamal, who lives with his mama, do handle themselves comfortably in front of a camera. They’re not as intriguing as, say, Bishop, Tupac’s character in his film debut, Juice, but their timing is good. Redman is actually a really funny dude.

The supporting cast is failsafe, if not typical: pimps, prostitutes, nerds, bourgie whitebreads, deans — usual suspects, considering the plot. Stalwarts such as Fred Willard, Al “Hits” Shearer and Lark Voorhies lend credence to the flick. Be clear, though. You’re dealing with two cats in Meth and Red who have learned how to be lovably offensive. Method Man does it with a tinge of sex appeal (ladies love the cat). Redman does it with humor. Regardless, know going in whether you can stomach the N-word, B-word and H-word used ad nauseam. How much authenticity it all lends to their hood personae, or whether it’s even necessary, is fodder for a much larger debate, one that ain’t funny at all.

Overall, it’s a good movie for Method Man-Redman fans. The pair stays true to form, simply switching arenas. And the result is about as resilient as their albums.

Khary Kimani Turner writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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