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High Road (2011)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/6/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/4/2012
In my recent review forA Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, I wrote about the stoner comedy. However, I failed to explore the two definitions of this sub-genre. First of all, we have movies where the humor is not only about marijuana use, but seems to come from a place where one would have to be under the influence of pot to either write or enjoy the jokes. The Harold & Kumar films certainly fall into this category, as does Super Troopers or Dude, Where's My Car?. The other side of this coin comes with movies which are pretty straight-forward and simply focus on the activities of a stoner. High Road falls squarely into this category, although calling it a comedy may be too generous.
As High Road opens, we meet Glenn Fitzgerald (James Pumphrey), the drummer for the band Tor Eagle. Fitz is pretty happy following a gig, until his fellow bandmates, Tommy (Zach Woods), Shelia (Lizzy Caplan), and Richie (Matt L. Jones) both announce that they are leaving the band. The story then jumps ahead three months later. Fitz is still depressed about the dissolution of the band and he spends most of his time smoking pot or selling it. In fact, unbeknownst to his live-in girlfriend, Monica (Abby Elliot), Fitz has basically become a drug-dealer. Jimmy (Dylan O'Brien), a kid from the neighborhood, likes to skip school and hang out with Fitz during the day. When a drug deal goes sour, Fitz assumes that the police are after him. He runs home, throws away all of his stash, and is attempting to hit the road, when Jimmy arrives, demanding that he go with Fitz. Fitz has decided that he will leave town until things cool off. Little does he know that Jimmy's dad (Rob Riggle) is seeking help from a (sort of) police buddy and Monica is discovering the truth about her boyfriend.
High Road comes from Writer/Director Matt Walsh, a member of the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade (which also gave us Amy Poehler) and an actor whom you'd recognize from his cameos in movies likeThe Hangover and Role Models. (He also has an uncredited cameo in High Road.) The writing of High Road is credited to Walsh and Josh Weiner, but the Blu-ray Disc box states that the movie has an "improvised script". What does that mean? Does that mean that the movie was made and then Walsh and Weiner went back and wrote down what was said? Or does that mean that the script gave a general outline of the story and dialogue and the actors made up the specifics of what they said? It's most likely the latter, but "improvised script" is still a vague term at best.
So, it sounds like High Road wants to be like movies such as This is Spinal Tap or most anything made by Christopher Guest in the last sixteen years. And the movie boasts a cast of recognizable faces. In addition to those listed above, we get Ed Helms, Andrew Daly, Kyle Gass, Horatio Sanz, and Joe Nunez. So, the question has to be asked, where did this movie go wrong, because it's not very funny. Is it the "script"? The purported idea of a guy who unwittingly becomes a drug dealer is an interesting one, but unfortunately that's not really explored here. What we get is a story which focuses on a depressed and fairly unlikable guy which then turns into a road movie. As I've written before, the road movie needs to be pronounced over and done with so that we can move on. The movie doesn't present many interesting situations, save for the act with Shelia and Richie develop once they leave Tor Eagle.
In that case, blame must fall upon the actors as well, as they are apparently responsible for their own dialogue. There's no doubt that there are a handful of funny lines here, but for the most part, I felt that the actors were fumbling through the conversations desperately trying to say something funny. The result is a lot of scenes which have an awkward and wayward feel. To be fair to the cast, some of the scenes are obviously a one-joke set-up and they are asked to keep talking. The movie could have used an actual script and tighter editing.
High Road is one of those movies which must be labeled as deceptive. It contains several familiar comedic actors and the premise sounds intriguing. But, the final product is a dull disappointment which doesn't bring the amount of laughs that we would like. High Road delivers a low blow.
High Road offers the weirdest drag queen song ever (and that's saying a lot) on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Millennium Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The image is slightly dark and somewhat soft. I'm not sure how the movie was shot (film? HD?), but it has a decidedly low-budget look to it. The colors are acceptable, although they are washed out in some shots. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-film music sounds very good. The stereo effects are pretty good and they show nice separation. Select scenes, such as when Fitz hits the road, offer detailed surround sound effects.
The only extra feature on the High Road Blu-ray Disc is a series of "Cast & Crew Interviews" (15 minutes) where Horatio Sanz, James Pumphrey, Joe LoTruglio, and Lizzy Caplan give quasi-serious answers to questions about the movie.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long