Review: ‘Kid Cannabis’ 9.20.14

Let me start by saying I really went out on a limb with this one. Hearing mostly positive things from a good friend of mine who had been talking about it as being one of the better movies they had seen so far this year. I thought “well, I haven’t even heard of it (rare these days), and if it winds up being half as good as the person who recommended it said it was, then it will at least be worth my time”. Plus, this same friend is always a good sport about taking a chance at some of my more “art house” or challenging type films that I recommend to them, so I figured it was only fair that I gave something they really liked a shot. Then I started to look into it only as so far as I usually look into most films – by who the director is and what they’ve done up to this point. Well, then I really started to worry. It’s directed by John Stockwell of such highly acclaimed films like 1999’s “Crazy/Beautiful”, 2002’s “Blue Crush”, 2005’s “Into The Blue”, and 2006’s “Turistas”. All movies that I never even considered seeing at the time, because, well, I’ll let you figure that one out.

“Kid Cannabis” is based on a true story about a young, fat, schlub named Nate, who also happens to be a high school drop out and delivers pizzas for a living. He hangs out with his good friend friend Topher (played by Kenny Wormald, one of the highlights of the film). The two of them spend most of their time doing not much of anything other than getting stoned and ruminating on how meaningless their existence is. Until one day Nate delivers a pizza to one of the local pot dealers, who to Nate, seems to have it all – money, drugs, good looking women, confidence – basically everything a young man could possibly wish for. He then comes up with a plan to cross the Canadian border and consults with a “weed lawyer” before doing so. While in Canada he and Topher first visit a Medicinal Marijuana shop which leads them to meeting up with a rather attractive young woman, who invites them into her home and there (in a hilarious scene) they meet her father (played with a I “I know this is bad but I’m going to give it my best shot” John C. McGinley) who gives them a kind of 101 crash course in growing and distributing marijuana. This leads them to a strip club, to meet with a big time drug kingpin whom they hope to make their “connect”, played again with a “I’m doing this because I need the extra money” knowingness by Ron Perlman (who I’ve always declared is the lesser known Christopher Walken. Just the mere sight of him entering into a film makes me want to clap). Perlman connects them to the best weed at the best price. Business starts to really pick up, they start making oodles of money, partying, living the dream life of an aspiring drug dealers, and then, well, I think you can probably guess where the film goes from there.

The movie winds up being a total mixed bag. There are both many great things and many not so good things about it that I could reflect on. The choice of casting a complete unknown (played by “Project X’s” Jonathan Daniel Brown) I thought was a pretty commedable and a sort of a leap of faith. However it totally worked here. This young and up-and-comer pretty much carried the entire film on his shoulders. There’s also a fair amount of downright hilarious scenes. Scenes like when he meets the local dealer and sees his first sight of the good life, the weed lawyer, John C. McGinleys family, and a run in with a cop that’s like something taken straight out of “Super Troopers”; are all funny enough to warrant some serious laughs. There’s also a sense of outrageousness to the whole proceeding. Almost tongue and cheek or self parody-like, with some great one liner voice overs, where you know they’re trying to do their best with the little bit they have. That was another thing I admired. Where it fell short with me was in its third act, where as I expressed to said friend who recommended it, it fell into something similar to a “Lifetime crime movie of the week”. What starts off as a mildly to moderately effective and entertaining film for almost two thirds of the way through, takes a complete tonal shift and starts to play itself out seriously in its last act. As if we should care for these characters. That and it ends rather abruptly and flat. With the cliche montage of all of the characters involved and what their charges were and the credits coming rather soon and unexpectedly. Yes I thoroughly enjoyed watching these characters’ rise to fame from nothingness, but wanting me to care for their ultimate demise is asking just a little too much. Had it of maintained its comedic tone throughout I think I would have wound up liking it more when all was said and done. Recommended to anyone who remembers being a kid and dreaming of a better life. Or like me, got involved in the game to somehow try and achieve it. Or rather yet, if you’re looking for something mindless to sip some beers over and be mildly entertained on a down night if you’ve got nothing better to do. Then this movie is campy and silly enough to provide you with some fun and enjoyment. But that’s just a handful of people that I can think of. For everyone else this might be one you may want to put in some serious thought and consideration before deciding on whether or not you should see it.

Grade: C+