Revisited: Half Baked

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Thurgood Jenkins and his friends Brian and Scarface are forced into selling marijuana stolen from the lab where Thurgood works as a “master of the custodial arts” (janitor). They do this in order to bail their friend Kenny out of jail for $1 Million, after he accidentally kills Buttercup, a diabetic police horse, by feeding it junk food. Their business, named Mr. Nice Guy in honor of their good-natured incarcerated friend, becomes immensely popular, even attracting famous clientele. Thurgood’s personal life is ruined once his adamantly anti-drug girlfriend, ironically named Mary Jane Potman, discovers that he works for Mr. Nice Guy.

Soon, all of their lives are in danger once Samson Simpson, a local drug lord, learns that Mr. Nice Guy is costing him business, including his former client rapper Sir Smoke-a-Lot. He threatens to kill them if they do not pay him $20,000 every week. Brian buys a pouch that is supposed to contain the ashes of Jerry Garcia with some of the money they are making, and Scarface buys a rottweiler named Killer.

Thurgood tells police about a future meeting he has with Samson Simpson after they arrest him for stealing marijuana from the laboratory. The police agree to drop the charges if Thurgood wears a wire, that way they can get the proof they need to arrest the drug lord. Before the guys go into Samson’s home they smoke a joint in the police van. The cops get high from the second hand smoke. The cops tell them to say “abracadabra” when they have purchased the drugs. During the interview, Samson discovers that Thurgood is wearing a wire and is about to kill them. They scream “abracadabra” into the wire to try to get the cops to save them. But the cops are high from second-hand smoke and busy mocking a letter Thurgood wrote to Mary Jane. A fight breaks out with Samson and his army of women. Brian throws the pouch he bought earlier on the ground. The ghost of Jerry Garcia emerges and hits Samson with a guitar, knocking him out. The police then rush in and recover all of the drugs, and arrest Samson after he wakes up. Thurgood, Brian, and Scarface’s deal with the police works to get Kenny a pardon from jail. Thurgood gives up smoking and is able to win back Mary Jane whose dad is a marijuana dealer.

REVIEW:

I was taking a chance on this show called Key & Peele the other day and it reminded me about how much I missed Dave Chappelle when he was on Comedy Central. This brought me to the realization that I need to go back and watch him again in Half Baked. The film that really put him on the map.

What is this about?

Three ganja-smoking dimwits hatch a plot to raise bail money for their jailed friend by selling dope on the street. But they’d better spring their incarcerated buddy fast — before he ends up as the “boy toy” of a criminal named Nasty Nate.

What did I like?

Short, but sweet. So many films, past and present, take forever and day to get going because they spend so much time on the backstory of the characters. Sometimes it is best to just get the basic idea and move on. I mean, with a film like this, there’s no need to go deep into each character’s backstory, unlike something more serious like Lincoln or some other character drama.

Know your roots. Max, the Netflix recommendation program, had recommended Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke the other day when I was looking for something to watch (ended up going with Desperado, if you’re interested). In his recommendation, he brought up the point that no stoner flick, including this one, which was mentioned by name, would exist without that flick from Cheech and Chong. I bring this up because Tommy Chong actually has a small supporting role as Squirrel Master, showing the filmmakers knew they needed to honor the legacy. I wonder why they couldn’t get Cheech, though.

Dave. Anyone want to take a guess at who the star of this film is? If you said Dave Chappelle, then you are 100% correct. Chappelle is the man whose career took off following this film. His character is the most grounded of the bunch and he even gets the girl, ironically named Mary Jane.

What didn’t I like?

Hey, kids! Dave Chappelle said that the original version of this film he wrote was a bit more adult-oriented, but the studios turned it into “a weed movie for kids”. Now, I like this version of the film, but I can see where he’s coming from. Studios are often changing films from what they are originally meant to be. One of the most famous of these is Superman II, which thankfully some home video company had the foresight to release the infinitely superior Richard Donner cut of the film, so that people can judge which version they prefer (and most prefer the Donner cut). As far as Chappelle calling this a weed movie for kids…can you blame him? His roommates are about as smart as the dumb henchman you see on Saturday morning cartoons, the “villain” is a caricature of a cartoon villain, and everything works out a little too perfectly at the end.

Jailhouse Rock. Maybe this is just the goodie two-shoes in me talking, but the whole reason these guys are in the situation is because of weed, including their stations in life (excluding the teacher, who is ironically the one who gets arrested). I guess I just expected something more dire to happen to them, even considering the lighter tone of this film.

Samson. So, the villain’s name is Samson Samson. Aside from the fact that he has double names and some kind of weirdly permed hair, this guy made no sense as a villain. The rapper, who was also played by Chappelle, Sir Smokes-a-Lot, would have made more sense. Also, in the escape from Samson’s lair, one of the potheads is fighting with Delilah, or one of his henchwomen, and suddenly her breast is revealed. The whole film is stopped just to look at it, and I realize it was for comic effect, but really?!? What was the point?

I was asked the other day why I watch so many stoner comedies, such as Half Baked. Well, the reason is that even though I’m not a smoker, I do find them funny. This is no exception as the issues I have are minor, at best. With that said, this is far from a perfect film, but it is sure to bring you some laughs. I give this a high recommendation, as we all could use more laughter in our life, right? Give it a shot, eh?

4 out of 5 stars

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