Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – How High 2

Year of Release: 2019

Production Companies: Universal 1440 Entertainment/MTV/Smith-Garr Productions

For my review on the first film, click here.

Like I had noted in my review of The Man with the Iron Fists 2, straight-to-video sequels (or TV, for that matter) are far from a novel concept. What’s funny (as in strange) is that I have seen my share of some, whether they follow a story or are simply rehash of a predecessor, or even just a film with the name slapped on it to draw viewers. I have noted that there are some that I enjoy. There are also some that I didn’t enjoy, like this film that I am about to cover here.

Let me just make one thing clear here. Comedy is definitely a subjective taste, as well as a hard thing to write and produce. Add to the fact that there are different forms of comedy out there. Whether you’re talking about slapstick, dark, romantic, and sometimes even dumb/silly comedy, which doesn’t always mean that it’s unfunny. Really, dumb/stupid comedy can sometimes have its charm because while the comedy may be a bit over the top, some of the time the humor can actually draw some laughs, as well as what could work is chemistry among the leads. Stoner favorites such as the first film, Half-Baked, Friday, and of course, the Cheech & Chong films (particularly Up in Smoke) have their charm because of the chemistry of the leads and good writing.

This film, How High 2, while it had its moments in some areas (I’ll admit that I chuckled a tad at times), it was just downright bad. There, I said it. But how bad was it? Before I get into my review, let me talk about some background info that some of you may need to know.

For starters, one of the main things is that for years, a sequel with Method Man and Redman was considered. In fact, it had been considered since the late-2000s, right around the time Red and Meth were recording Blackout 2. However, Universal didn’t want to fund the movie, according the IMDB tribune. In late 2015, Redman had stated that Danny DeVito signed him and Method Man back onto the film and a script was being written. In early 2017, the script had been rewritten because Red and Meth didn’t like the earlier drafts. They had hoped that the film would start shooting in late 2017 to early 2018. Even around that time, Redman had stated that the script had been rewritten once again, as he had also said that he and Method Man would not return if the script was not funny. Then the script was rewritten yet again in mid-2018 and Universal 1440 teamed with MTV.

At that point, in September 2018, both Method Man and Redman were unaware that Universal went ahead with the production of How High 2 and that they didn’t bother to contact them until the beginning of production. When they got contacted, they declined after production began with Lil’ Yachty and DC Young Fly. So in other words, Universal went ahead and started production on it without their knowledge. Also, it had been said that Meth and Red were supposed to reprise their roles and Yachty was supposed to be Method Man’s character’s younger brother.

So what does this say about the film? Now I’m getting to that, and note, this will contain spoilers.

This film starts off with Roger, played by Lil’ Yachty, working the night shift at a fast food restaurant and then comes across a couple of rich girls, whom he smokes weed with, only to be robbed by them. Then we are introduced to his cousin Calvin, played by DC Young Fly, who I believe was an Uber driver or something of that nature. He was getting high with a co-worker. The two cousins live in Roger’s mother’s basement. Then suddenly, they come across “The Weed Bible,” which not only introduces them to some powerful weed, but also they encounter Baby Powder (Mike Epps) and his sidekick, played by Teresa Topnotch and she is only credited as “Sidekick.” I kid you not, and yes, Mike Epps reprised his role as Baby Powder from the first film (I will get to another appearance, just wait, as well as some sad attempts to link the two films), but this time he wasn’t a pimp who was trying to get his hookers back. No, this time he played a spiritual figure whom only Roger and Calvin see, almost like a ghost or spirit to give them advice. I really did not understand what they did with this character. I really didn’t, especially when his character was just a pimp who slapped people in the face with baby powder (which he also did in this film, and that’s not even the first sad attempt at trying to link the films!). So Roger and Calvin try to sell the weed, only to find that it went missing and then they go around Atlanta to search for it.

Okay, I’m not sure what this movie was trying to be. I have to hand it to the writers for not making this a complete rehash of the first film’s plot, but in a lot of ways, I saw a lot of elements from Half-Baked, Pineapple Express, as well as a reference to one of my all-time favorite films, Back to the Future.

So what exactly was wrong with this film? This film was also full of cliches that you have seen before. For example, an illicit video coming up when trying to expose someone, a typical inspirational sequence by telling the lead that it was all him and not something that got him far, etc. Okay, I will admit that one bit involving the embarrassing video got a chuckle out of me, as well as some sequences with DeRay Davis, but that was about it. But then there’s the typical “marijuana is like LSD” trope that’s been played out for years. Weed is not that powerful. I mean, sure, a joke like that was done in Half-Baked, but it was justified in the plot as the weed that was being used was supposed be “the good shit,” if you know what I mean.

Another thing that was bad was that there was a forced romantic subplot involving Roger and Alicia, who I believe was an old school crush or girlfriend. It was obvious that she and Roger would end up together, but then she finds herself involved in the plot. Okay, I could hand it to the actress playing the girl as she was trying. But then there were bits in the plot with Roger somehow revealing to her that he sort of lied about some stuff. But you know what, it didn’t matter to her. Duh! Plus, I couldn’t buy those two as an item, and why she would even choose him, especially with a guy with that kind of hair.

As for the sad attempts at trying to link the two films, only one other actor from the first film appeared and that was Al Shearer, who played I Need Money (Yes, that was his name). He appeared in this film as I Got Money. I am not even sure if they were supposed to be the same character (Seriously, same actor, but the difference between “need” and “got” could only mean that the guy had improved himself), but don’t even get me started on the forced bit involving his teeth being shown (Yes, that was done in this movie, too). Also, another sad attempt was taking a puff and seeing the ghost of someone. *sigh* WHY?! At least in the first film, the reason for that was because the dead guy’s ashes were mixed with the marijuana seeds and it was what caused the character of Ivory to come back as a ghost. So it made more sense as it was explained in the plot.

Okay, regarding performances, I had already talked about the love interest, but regarding the leads, I had a hard time trying to take Yachty seriously as the straight man of the group. DC Young Fly, on the other hand, well, I am not familiar with his comedy, but it felt like he was trying to be like Chris Tucker or Kevin Hart. He tried too hard. I mean I am not going to crap on these two because I can see that they were trying, but with what they worked with, it just didn’t work for me.

In a lot of ways, Method Man and Redman had dodged a major bullet by not appearing in this movie. I love that movie. I remember seeing it in theaters when it came out. It was definitely a film that holds up now, even if it’s almost 20 years old. This film, on the other hand, when you have it debut on MTV, that really says a lot about it. I found it on Netflix, so I had to see it for myself. I didn’t even go in with high (no pun intended) expectations. Like I had noted, it had a few moments, particularly with DeRay Davis and another bit, but overall, this was just bad. I mean BAD.

Then again, I still wonder about I Got the Hook-Up 2, and yes, that movie does exist. I will cover that one when I see it, even though I need to cover some of the other No Limit films (Including the first I Got the Hook-Up, which I haven’t seen in so long).

Rating: 1/5

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – How High

Year of Release: 2001

Film Studio: Universal Pictures/Jersey Films/Native Pictures

When I wrote my review of The Wash, at the end of it I had noted about a much funnier movie that came out a month after that one, theatrically, I mean, I actually meant that it was indeed a funnier movie. The funny thing about these two movies is that they came out around the same time, with The Wash having come to theaters in November of 2001, while How High, the movie that this review is about, was released in theaters in December of that same year. So basically they both came out at roughly the end of that year.

A little personal history note, I remember having gone to see How High in theaters with my uncle. I was 15 at the time and being that I was already a big hip-hop head, I figured why not see this considering how I thought the movie looked funny and that I wanted to see Method Man and Redman on the big screen. I also remember being on my winter break at the time, not to mention it was also a few days before Christmas when I saw it.

One thing that will be said is that this film was a riot all the way through, in fact, in comparison to The Wash, it was not only funnier, but it also has a much different tone, which actually worked in this film.

There really isn’t much of a story in this film. It’s pretty basic, really. The story is about Silas (Method Man), a marijuana grower, and Jamal, a stoner, getting into Harvard and changing the Ivy League institution around and trying to get an education, but odds are against them in uptight Dean Cain (I wonder if that was intentional by the writers), played by Obba Babatunde. How they got there was through a spiritual source, if you know what I mean. Silas’s friend, Ivory died earlier on in the film, but because Silas had put his ashes into the soil of a cannabis plant, once he and Jamal smoked the Ivory weed, his ghost appears and helps them get through school. Of course, there is a romantic subplot as Silas becomes enamored with Lauren, played by Lark Voorhies (aka Lisa from Saved By The Bell), who is the girlfriend of secondary antagonist, Bart (Chris Elwood), the typical rich guy who looks down on Silas and Jamal.

Apart from the plot summary, this film is a straight-up stoner comedy that is similar to old Cheech & Chong films, as well as another stoner comedy cult favorite, Half-Baked. The title of the film is also named after the hit song of the same name from the two lead actors. Also, the tone of the film felt like a lowbrow¬†comedy with very little to no ounce of seriousness in it. One part in the film that in another film would be a little more serious didn’t even take out anything humorous.

Also, unlike The Wash, Method Man and Redman had a lot more comedic chemistry than Dre and Snoop did. The thing about this film is that Meth seemed like the closest to being the straight man of the duo while Redman was more of the comedic sidekick. However, Meth had shown some comedic talent in some scenes. Even a few other supporting characters were also funny, like the character of Tuan. He had some excellent comedic timing in his lines. Also, Spalding Gray (RIP) had a hilarious scene as the Black History professor. Check out this scene below:

Also, being that this is a stoner movie, a lot of the references to weed were clever. While there were scenes of the two lead characters smoking and passing blunts and bongs, one of the weed references that was clever was the name of the exam that is needed to get into a good school. It was called “Testing for Higher Credentials.” Put the three first letters of those words together. Also, I noticed one character that wore a hoodie that said “Ivy League” on it and it had a cannabis leaf on it. I would wear a hoodie like that.

I also have to say that Lark Voorhies did a good job in her role as the love interest for Method Man’s character. I don’t think I have seen her in too many films that were given theatrical releases, yet this was one of them. The only other one I can think of is How To Be A Player, but she didn’t have a lot of screen-time in that film. It is a shame of what she has been through over the years and it doesn’t help that people will always see her as Lisa from Saved By The Bell. Plus, she did provide some eye candy in the film. In fact there were a lot of attractive women in this film, including the ever-so-lovely Essence Atkins.

Also, there was a brief cameo from Cypress Hill, who also performed in this film.

On the DVD of this film, there is an audio commentary track from both Method Man and Redman. It was funny to hear these two talk about the film and about certain scenes. Also, it seemed like Method Man was stoned at the start of the commentary. Maybe he actually was. It sure seemed like it. However, as time progressed, the duo really touched on a lot of things about the film. One of the parts that stood out was when Meth talked about Lark Voorhies’s performance, like how she made him think that she actually liked him. Also, there was a part where Meth talked about how he admits that he and Redman aren’t that great of actors but they did what they could in the film, given what they worked with.

How High is definitely a good example of a silly stoner movie done right. Now I am not surprised that this was given some negative reviews at the time of its release. It is really not a movie for everyone. This movie is basically on the same level as Half-Baked in that it had similar humor, not just the fact that there was a lot pot-smoking in the movie. Both films had a lot of crazy shit going on. I know I had mentioned The Wash at the start of this review, but when comparing those two films, How High wins this one. Now I don’t mind The Wash, even though I do believe it was not a good film, this film got a lot more laughs out of me. Both Meth and Redman had a lot of chemistry on-screen and there were plenty of funny moments even from some of the supporting cast, including one of the antagonists of the film. I also forgot to mention that Anna Maria Horsford was in this film as Jamal’s mother, which is funny considering how a few years after she played Meth’s mother on Method & Red (Note to self: Must get back to writing Method & Red episode reviews). Overall, in a nutshell, this was a hilarious movie.

Recommended, especially to hip-hop fans and those who also like to toke.

NEXT UP: The soundtracks to The Wash and How High, but I also have some other ideas in mind.

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