Dave Chappelle, a master of the oblique reference, is damn near white peoples' favorite black comic. His offbeat, weird style of two-liner comedy is a perfect primer for the X generation weaned on those critics of the pop cult scene, Beavis and Butt-head. Were Beavis and his boy pot smokers? It's hard to say. But these two categories exemplify the scope of this new feature, co-written by Chappelle.
Deliberately narcoleptic and silly, Half Baked follows four oblivious weedheads, including Chappelle as bemused Thurgood, in a normal day of life while under the spell of Buddha. Does pot make one less practical in basic thought? Possibly, but that's reason enough for Thurgood's boy Kenny to get thrown in jail when he kills a policeman's horse by feeding the diabetic animal a ton of sweets while shopping for munchies.
Thurgood rallies the boys to save Kenny's ass, but not before finding bliss in the form of looker Rachel True, whose character happens to be named (you guessed it) Mary Jane. The couple hits it off, but with the small problem that she vehemently opposes sinsemilla.
In Friday, director F. Gary Gray, also culpable for the wretched Set It Off, expanded rapper Ice Cube's mythology by finessing the herb subculture into mainstream cinema. Half Baked carries this trend to an entirely new level with a glut of references and jokes that, for the most part, only slackers and career potheads will catch. Snoop Doggy Dogg makes a cameo with measured acting that is naturalistic and terse, and Willie Nelson, Jon Stewart and Steven Wright all drop in to round out the story that is esoteric of plot.
This flick is on the pitch of Cube's ghetto comedy, but different, as it is squarely divorced from reality. There is something about its juvenile mind-set to offend almost everybody, but when the spirit of Jerry Garcia shows up to save our protagonists, it's a climax worthy even of B&B's recognition. It's a hoot. Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.
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