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Michael Tiddes
Dexter Darden, Moses Storm, Ramona Young
Writing Credits:
Justin Hires

JR and his friends search for money to bury a friend who died from smoking the most powerful joint in the world.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 4/16/2024

• None


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Half Baked: Totally High [Blu-Ray] (2024)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 26, 2024)

Back in 1998, Half Baked took up the stoner comedy mantle from Cheech and Chong. Though the film didn’t sell many tickets, it eventually turned into a cult hit on video.

More than a quarter century later, a sequel finally arrives. 2024’s Half Baked: Totally High looks at the next generation of pot lovers.

JR (Dexter Darden), Miles (Moses Storm), Cori (Ramona Young) and Bruce (Joel Courtney) bonded years ago when they smoked a joint together. However, this long-time affection leads to Bruce’s death after he puffs on a legendary three-strain doobie that can only be ingested by a “Chosen One”, and that ain’t him.

The three surviving pals need to find a way to raise the funds to transport Bruce’s corpse across country to New Jersey for its burial. This leads the pot-loving buddies to sell weed on their own, an enterprise that leads to threats from outside parties.

Man, that seems like a dark theme for what I figured would offer a goofy stoner comedy. I never saw the 1998 film, but a look at its synopsis implies a less grim concept at its core.

The 1998 flick also came with a fairly young Dave Chappelle in his first lead film role. 25 years from now, will we look back at High as a career launching point for Darden, the actor who plays the son of Chappelle’s character?

Probably not, though now in his 30s, Darden isn’t all that young, and he enjoys a pretty sizable roster of prior roles. In particular, the Maze Runner franchise acts as his main claim to fame, though he played a supporting character there.

Again, since I never viewed the 1998 flick, I can’t judge how Chappelle came across in that flick. Talented as he proved to be, that doesn’t mean he excelled as an actor in a feature film.

I can say that Darden doesn’t show a ton of comedic potential, as he seems out of his league. Actually, I suspect he boasts superior dramatic chops compared to Chappelle, but given that High wants to give us a broad farce, comedic chops become the most important.

Darden doesn’t flop, but he also fails to give JR real comic zing. The same goes for Young and Storm, both of whom seem perfectly competent but no better.

As a film, High also comes across as moderately watchable and that’s about it. Admittedly, given that we find a direct-to-video sequel to a movie from more than 25 years ago, “moderately watchable” feels like a rave review.

When I went into High, I hoped to find something amusing and clever. However, I didn’t expect that, as I figured it’d more likely give us a tacky and witless affair than a comedic gem.

Based on what I anticipated I’d find, I’d call High a success. Based on what I view as cinematic entertainment… not so much.

High musters just enough professionalism and plot drive to keep the viewer mildly involved. However, it can’t do anything more than that.

The primary issue here comes from the stale nature of the whole project. Nothing about the characters or themes ever stands out as creative, and the execution fails to compensate for this lack of inventiveness.

Do any laughs result? Not really. Do we care about JR and the others? Also not really.

Nonetheless, High delivers a competent production that manages to achieve a form of acceptable mediocrity. Call that faint praise if one must, but “better than the atrocity I anticipated” feels like a victory to me.

Footnote: as far as I can tell, only one castmember from the 1998 movie reappears here. I won’t say who other than to note a) this person pops up very briefly and b) it’s not Chappelle.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus F

Half Baked: Totally High appears in an aspect ratio of 2.00:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a good but unexceptional presentation.

Overall delineation seemed fine, though a bit more softness occurred in wide shots than anticipated. Still, the overall impression left me with a largely accurate image.

No issues occurred with jagged edges or shimmering, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws also failed to manifest.

Unsurprisingly, the film generally opted for a fairly teal and amber palette, but it spread its tones on a moderate basis. This left us with reds and purples to balance out this pretty appealing set of hues/

Blacks felt fairly deep and dense, while low-light shots offered generally solid clarity. Nothing here excelled, but the end result looked fine.

Despite the possible sonic shenanigans that come with a movie about stoners, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of High seemed surprisingly restrained. Only sporadic sequences boasted an active soundscape.

For instance, a fantasy scene in which the leads imagine a police raid used the spectrum in a solid manner, and a later gunfight brought some pizzazz. However, these became the exception, as most of the track focused largely on the forward speakers.

Music and environmental used the front channels well, so the mix didn’t fizzle. Nonetheless, the surprising general use of the back speakers made this a less than impressive soundfield.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that remained natural and distinctive. Music showed good range and warmth.

Effects showed solid accuracy and punch as well. Though the soundscape didn’t impress, it still felt adequate.

No extras appear on the disc. Heck, we don’t even get a menu, as the movie simply starts and offers nowhere else to go.

It took more than 25 years for fans to get a sequel to 1998’s Half Baked, and I can’t claim that 2024’s Totally High seems worth the wait. It provides a mediocre affair that avoids the witless horrors I feared but that nonetheless fails to find any real laughs or creativity. The Blu-ray comes with generally good picture and acceptable audio but it lacks bonus materials. This winds up as a watchable film but not one that delivers more than the most basic entertainment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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