Drug movies are a lot more fun when you’re on the stuff being used in the movie, or so I’d assume. Because seriously, most of them just aren’t that funny. Sure, I enjoyed Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, but let’s be honest, that’s a movie about burgers not weed, and burgers are definitely an addiction I can participate in. For my waistline’s sake, I really should quit. But overall, drug movies just aren’t that funny when you’re straight. For that matter, neither are gay movies. Cheech and Chong are funnier in theory than actual practice.
So it was with pretty low expectations that I popped in Half Baked for my first ever viewing. Drug movies just aren’t my funny of choice, and I got pretty burned out on Dave Chappelle the fiftieth time I heard someone shout “I’m Rick James!” as if they’d just heard the greatest new joke. Despite my external hang-ups, Half Baked seems to work. That Dave Chappelle guy was actually pretty funny before he became a pop culture cliché, and hey, does anyone remember Jim Breuer? Well you should.
In Half Baked, those two form two-thirds of a trio of stoners trying to sell enough pot to spring their unjustly accused friend from jail. The other third is someone whose name I do not know, and who brings very little of value to the film. Our heroes’ friend has a tendency to drop the soap, so they’re in quite a rush to spring him. Much of this is just an excuse for Dave to be stoned and thrust into different situations. He deals with girlfriends, rival dealers, and various types of wacky, demanding pot smokers. In a weird way, Half Baked reminds me of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo with pot substituted for man whoring.
The laughs it delivers are due mostly to Dave’s crazy delivery. Though he’s a little overexposed right now, the guy is legitimately talented. The odd thing is that he seems a lot more lucid as a stoner than he ever is on his TV show. Perhaps he was actually straight while filming the movie, and chooses to get stoned before each episode of his show. That’s the only thing that makes sense.
The direction from Tamra Davis is solid, and pretty appropriate to the material. She’s a veteran when it comes to this sort of comedy and seems to really know how to work with talented comedic actors. She points the camera and lets her stars do their thing. Because of that, they’ve got plenty of room to improve, resulting in some of the film’s funny bits.
Also noteworthy is an extended cameo from Steven Wright as The Guy, a fellow who shows up sleeping on their couch one morning and never actually leaves. For someone who snores the entire movie, he’s a pretty great character and the movie would have benefited if someone had found a way for him to dispense more valuable The Guy wisdom.
This is the Fully Baked Edition of the movie, which I guess is something you can equate to a regular old Special Edition, only with more drug references. They’ve spent a lot of money putting together creative menus for this release; unfortunately none was spent on anything else.
The first thing you’ll notice when you start the Half Baked (Fully Baked Edition) up is that you can skip right over the obligatory trailers for other movies by pushing the old menu button. Thank god for that. I’ve had to deal with too many DVDs that won’t let you skip over the money-hungry advertising that’s becoming more and more prevalent on modern DVDs. A nice press of the menu button confronts you with a brightly colored screen and a choice. Smoke, or no smoke? Should you select the Smoke button, you’ll wind up on a menu with a smokey, bong based background and clips of the cast from the movie lighting up. Should you select the No Smoke option, you’ll end up on a menu with exactly the same options as the Smoke menu, but with a psychedelic, bubble theme. I’d go with the Smoke, but it’s not like it matters. It’s creative I guess, but whoever put the disc together could have scheduled their time to be better spent.
I say that because while this release looks and sounds pretty sharp, it’s awfully thin on special features. There’s a nice commentary track featuring Tamra Davis. This is the second track of hers I’ve listened to, and she fares a lot better here than the last time I heard her do one. Then you’ve got a few deleted scenes (most of which are not funny) and an alternate ending (which is too long). Ok, fine. How about some cast interviews? A free subscription to High Times? Nope.
Actually, the feature that looked the most promising is called “5 Minutes with The Guy”. I clicked this immediately, hoping for some sort of wacky dissertation from the hilarious mind of Steven Wright. What I got instead was a guy dressed up to look like Steven Wright sleeping on a couch for five minutes. The most exciting moment comes when he groggily scratches his ass.
Instead of actually talking to anyone involved with the film, they’ve included production notes. I’m no fan of reading on DVDs, but for production notes, these were pretty insightful, containing comments about the film from various people involved in making it. However, there’s no reason they couldn’t have simply grabbed a camcorder and interviewed these people on camera for the DVD, rather than lazily transcribing their comments into a fuzzy group of production notes. The production notes should have been a full on set of interviews, and there’s really no excuse for failing to do it. Instead, they put together a bunch of cartoons showing the different types of smokers. This is redundant, and not funny since the same thing is done in the movie featuring live action actors. Oh, and there's also a "Granny's Guide to Baking"... which is quite literally just some grandma sharing recipes. This feature I'm convinced exists SOLELY to give stoners the giggles. I was not stoned, and so fast fowarded through much of it.
Still, the movie is surprisingly funny for a drug flick and the disc is well put together if a little lacking. Though I suppose you should expect half-assed laziness on a disc for stoners. I guess that makes this release acceptable.