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Making its New York premiere to a theater full of shockingly punctual audience members two weeks ago at the New York Underground Film Festival, Super High Me is a hazy mixture of stand-up, skit and stoner comedy, skillfully rolled into… some sort of delicious cigarette filled with marijuana. A documentary of sorts, the film stars comedian Doug Benson, a former High Times magazine Stoner of the Year award winner who, along with comedians Arj Barker and Tony Camin, developed The Marijuanalogues [LAS feature] a few years ago. With a wink to Morgan Spurlock's blockbuster underground documentary of 2004, the camera follows Benson's daily regimen for two months - the first clean and sober, and the second higher than a California Redwood. All day, every day, for four weeks.
With a general appearance that suggests he just stepped out of Bobby Hill's closet, Benson brings the kind of comedy you'd expect from your hysterical high school buddy - funny in the good way. He is goofy and self-deprecating, and his timing is perfect. He knows exactly what he's doing and he knows what makes people laugh, and documentary buffs from Al Gore to Michael Moore know that comedy can be the key to making non-fiction films appealing to more than just PBS viewers. Considering that its star is a comedian and it essentially sets out to spoof a documentary, it is not surprising that Super High Me exudes an unprofessional air. Benson appears more amused than determined to run through some basic doctor's tests, and the doctor appears more actor than MD. (His Reefer Madness screensaver didn't seem to lend him much credibility.) "How awesome would it be if it killed me," Benson asks in stand-up bits, "fucking Grizzly Man style."
|Doug Benson, High Times magazine's Stoner of the Year.|
Super High Me highlights include: pre-trial evaluations from a doctor and a psychic; an interview with Canada's own Marc Emery, the self-proclaimed Prince of Pot who gives credence to the notion that it is possible to smoke yourself stupid; jokes written while not stoned; a look inside marijuana dispensaries and grow rooms; and run-ins with various famous friends. In the latter category, the film boasts cameos from the likes of Jeffrey Ross, Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk and Sarah Silverman - who even fires up the vaporizer with Dave Navarro and friends in an ambiguous "backstage" setting.
Beyond baked Benson, the film also touches on California's benchmark marijuana laws and, without getting too mired down in the debate, for the less informed gives a simple tutorial (goofy Clipart graphics and all) on the clash between legal, State-run dispensaries and the U.S. federal statutes that make them illegal. It's a strange line California walks… with Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Maine, Vermont…
Having garnered laughs at a number of special engagements, media screenings, and film festivals, Super High Me will be taking it to the masses for a "grassroots" nationwide festival of "Roll Your Own" screenings this weekend. Any users of the movie's website can register to host a screening of their own on the slightly obvious date of 4/20, for which Benson promises to send a DVD, free of charge. If you can't find a screening in your area and you've got a DVD player, a projector ("the one you use at the office is perfect"), and a couple of speakers, why not go for it - there's a good chance this is the best comedyocumentary you'll see all year.
Truth is, Benson's film could've been on just about any topic and been equally as entertaining, so long as Benson himself was the star. Marijuana is generally a comical subject, and the film being spoofed was funny in itself. Add to that mix a guy who could crack jokes mid-nap and still make the entire room erupt with the giggles, and you've got a winner. The guy has got funny on lockdown. Super High Me is this year's Super Size Me for the stoner in all of us. And the best part? You don't even have to be stoned. SEE ALSO: www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7vMqowaPig
SEE ALSO: www.superhighmemovie.com
SEE ALSO: www.bside.com
SEE ALSO: www.screenmediafilms.net
SEE ALSO: www.nyuff.com/2008/
Wearing plain black t-shirts, LAS contributing writer Pat Sullivan thinks a lot about a lot of different things. He likes thermoses but rarely has occasion to use them. He lives in Brooklyn.
See other articles by Patrick Sullivan.
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