Even if you’re old enough to remember “How High,” you probably don’t remember how sloppy and generally unfunny it was. Because the whole point of watching it back in pre-legalized 2001 was to be a little buzzed during the experience.
Taking umbrage that Method Man and Redman weren’t included in the 2019 sequel even though they’d been approached and promised that they’d get to reprise their stoners-with-a-mission movie career high-water mark roles is understandable, but misguided.
Look at Mike Epps in “How High 2.” Fiftyish guys still playing stoners is a little sad and not nearly as funny.
The original film had some funny bits and a quirkiness that some remember fondly. The sequel has less than that going for it.
But the big diff is that “How High” landed Garrett Morris, Fred Willard, Anna Maria Horsford, Hector Elizondo and Jeffrey Jones in the supporting cast.
“How High 2?” Mike Epps is the only “name” in it. You might recognize Mary Lynn Rajskub from “Night School” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” A scattering of famous (Lil Baby) to a lot less famous rappers and comics show up. But a funny script attracts big names to play funny bits. So there you go.
Lil Yachty and D.C. Young Fly star in this tale of two Atlantans who discover, then lose, “superweed” and the “bible” for growing it, and embark on an odyssey through high school and college, Big Pharma and Russian Mafia to get it back.
Because Roger (Yachty) has this Big Idea for an app that he needs to get financed. “Two Smack” will be an app “to deliver snacks to weed heads!”
Gold mine, right? He should know. Two temptresses ply him with joints in an effort to rob the fast food joint where he works in the film’s opening scene.
That gets him fired, and without his cut-rate dealer/Uber-beater driver cousin Cal (Fly) at the bank loan officer meeting to back him up, all Roger has is gift cards for collateral.
All is lost until that night they they stumble into a stash hidden behind a brick in the wall of Roger’s mama’s basement. A “Weed Bible” might not impress anybody, but the lone sample joint included with it has them seeing Baby Powder (Epps) from the first “How High,” and multiplicities of themselves on a Never Ending Sofa, pretty much in an instant.
They’ve no sooner grown a “Little Shop of Horrors” sized plant from the seeds than they’re “ghetto-taxed,” robbed of their herb. Who got it? Big Bang (DeRay Davis) the dealer next door?
“Why do they call me Big BANG?”
“‘Cause you’re the spark that startled it all.”
Maybe the Russian mob down at the strip club grabbed it. Or high school kids. Or college kids. Or that big pharmaceutical firm Alicia (Alyssa Goss) works at. Roger’s been sweet on her since high school. For some reason, beautiful business woman with a good job Alicia joins them on their quest.
Here’s what works. Davis as Big Bang has the most funny lines, bad puns such as “You’re heard of Selma? They SELMA weed down there!”
I had to look up D.C. Young Fly’s real name (John Whitfield) to make sure he wasn’t Chris Tucker’s kid. Because the lad is ANTIC, wound UP. And funny.
He mugs for the camera, but he’s got amusing physical shtick and a lightning quick “Young Chris Tucker” patter. Listen to him tick off Cal’s “rules of survival” for getting out of any jam — fender bender to out-of-control frat party.
“Rule number one, NEVER apologize! Rule number two, NEVER give out your GOVERNMENT name. Rule number three, NEVER throw a cup that gets free refills!”
Lil Yachty (look for a Miles Park McCollum sight gag, because that’s his real name) isn’t nearly as good at the whole mugging, manic way with a line thing. He’s saddled with a flurry of obscure (ish) pop culture reference zingers — “Why y’all gotta go all Clermont Twins on me like that?” Alicia? She looks “Angela Rye/Jemele HILL amazing!”
Yeah, older white guy critic cracking on African American pop culture jokes is exactly what Cal is bitching about when he barks, “Y’all GOTTA stop watching black movies, right? Cuz you’re F—–g up the culture!”
I get it.It’s kind of like this, right?
But hey, I used to work with Jemele. Gotta count for something. And I follow Tommy Chong on twitter. What’s that tell you?
It’s not just the cast or the script that lets down “How High 2.” It’s the whole legalized/CBD Oil culture shift that does it in.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, pot use and abuse, sexual situations, mock violence
Cast: Lil Yachty, D.C. Young Fly, Alyssa Goss, DeRay Davis, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Mike Epps.
Credits: Directed by Bruce Leddy, script by Shawn Ries and Artie Johann. A Universal release.
Running time: 1:28