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'High School' dudes fail miserably

Matt Bush, Adrien Brody, and Sean Marquette star

Matt Bush, Adrien Brody, and Sean Marquette star in Anchor Bay Films' "High School." Credit: Neil Jacobs, Property of Anchor Bay Films

You might envy actors for their wealth and fame, but think about this: At least your total humiliation hasn't been immortalized in a feature-length movie.

Not so for Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, Michael Chiklis and the other stars, would-be stars and may-never-be stars of "High School," a mortifyingly unfunny attempt at a stoner comedy. Directed and co-written with almost malicious ineptitude by John Stalberg Jr., the movie makes its most talented actors look like desperate wash-ups. Even the female extras who agreed to go nude in the obligatory shower scene must be sorry they got involved.

Its potentially likable leads are Matt Bush ("Nice Guy Johnny") as straight-A student Henry Burke and Sean Marquette ("Seabiscuit") as bong devotee Travis Breaux -- pronounced "bro." The day after Henry smokes his first joint, Morgan High School's creepy principal, Dr. Gordon (Chiklis, veering from his usual cop roles in series like FX's "The Shield"), announces mandatory drug testing. Breaux's idea: throw the results by drugging the entire student body.

That's almost a funny idea, but Stalberg's "jokes" are either weirdly blank (a stoned assistant principal, played by Hanks, throws snacks into the air), incredibly lame (an Asian student with an obscene last name) or gravely misguided (a wacky sex scene that's actually an attempted rape). It doesn't help that Stalberg shoots "High School" like a horror film, using low-angle close-ups that make his actors look like grimacing ghouls.

"High School" almost feels like a list of blackmail-worthy moments: Chiklis rubs himself under his desk; Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) plays a teacher who describes an icky sexual fantasy; Brody, as a drug dealer named Psycho Ed, weeps while arguing with a frog ("What? What?"). The only good news for everyone involved: The worst moment in your career is surely behind you.

PLOT Two high-schoolers attempt to get the entire student body stoned. RATING R (nudity, drug use, crude humor)

CAST Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Matt Brody


PLAYING AT Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, Lynbrook 6 and Stony Brook 17

BOTTOM LINE A blackmail-worthy embarrassment for this cast, whose best hope is that no one sees this grotesquely inept comedy.


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