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Ardustry Home Entertainment presents
High Times' Potluck (2002)

Vic: Hey Ma, what's that in your mouth?
Mickey: Yeah, it smells like oregano.
Vic: Ma, I told you, we put the pot next to the oregano.
Ma: No wonder my glaucoma was getting worse.

- Victor Colicchio, Nick Iacovino, Sylvia Miles

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: January 25, 2005

Stars: Frank Adonis
Other Stars: Jason Isaacs, Jason Mewes, Theo Kogan, Dan Lauria, Frank Gorshin, Jackie Martling, Tommy Chong, David Peel, Charles Malik Whitfield, Sylvia Miles
Director: Alison E.G. Thompson

MPAA Rating: R for pervasive drug content, sexuality/nudity, language, and some violence
Run Time: 01h:32m:34s
Release Date: January 25, 2005
UPC: 783722724026
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ CCC D-

DVD Review

High Times' Potluck is a stoner comedy without a single laugh, but it's nevertheless a fairly entertaining movie. No, I wouldn't call it "hold onto your sides, fall out of your seat funny" as did the highly regarded Stage Press Weekly in a blurb on the box (the periodical, I'm sure you know, is renowned for, uh, being printed on some sort of paper). But it does have a fairly interesting, ambitious screenplay, with a complicated, twisting plot that features dozens of characters over the course of a weekend in New York City. Call it the Pulp Fiction of pot movies, one that actually bothers to tell a story rather than rely on random acts of weirdness and an inebriated audience to fill 90 minutes.

Like Tarantino's film (incidentally, I'm sure this is the only time Potluck will be mentioned in the same sentence with a Cannes prizewinner, so savor it), the first movie produced by marijuana monthly High Times concerns itself largely with the whereabouts of a certain valuable briefcase. In this instance, of course, it's a briefcase filled with $50,000 worth of some kind of special weed, blue velvet or blue mountain or blue Smurf or something. It starts off in the hands of two dimwits who buy it in the country and take it into New York to sell it (though first they stop by a tranny bar and unwittingly pick up some guys, resulting in the requisite homophobic non-humor). They sell it to a finicky artist (Jason Isaacs, and for the record, this came out the year he played a key role in a Harry Potter movie, wink wink, ha ha), who is promptly killed by two thugs, who try to sell the drugs to the mob, who send a "soldier" (Frank Adonis) to deal with what they fear is a sting, who crosses paths with a punk rock singer (X), who opens his eyes to the magic of THC, which causes a change in the mobster's behavior, which makes his bosses nervous, and soon enough, all of the storylines twist together, and come to a head, during a massive marijuana legalization rally.

Like I said, for a drug movie, Potluck is surprisingly light on laughs, or even attempts at humor (though I was sober when I watched it). The typical trippy elements are kept to a minimum (including the standard first-time smoker animated hallucination, and what's with the continued insistence in movies that pot makes you hallucinate?), unless you count the complex plot, which probably would prove to be something of a challenge to piece together on drugs. But it's not without its pleasures, including a side story about an old movie serial star, the Slim Man (Frank Gorshin, the Riddler from the 1960s Batman). Mobsters watch the Slim Man's old movies, and these segments are filmed in black and white, with exaggerated acting and crime caper dialogue). The cast is full of likable unknowns, but the bigger names, including Kevin Smith muse Jason Mewes, Tommy Chong, and Sylvia Miles (a two-time Oscar nominee) grab most of the attention.

Director Alison E.G. Thompson handles the material well enough, and is more or less able to hide the low budget with creative camerawork, but she lets her scenes drag on way too long, and relies too much on the script for laughs rather than tight pacing—though it's under 90 minutes without credits, Potluck feels pretty long and, like I said, it really isn't funny, just interesting.

It's weird, but while High Times' Potluck is a total failure as a comedy, it's still one of the better entries in the genre, if only because it's one of the few that resembles an actual movie.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Potluck didn't cost much to produce, and you can certainly tell. The nonanamorphic widescreen image looks very washed out, with muted colors and shadow detail more suited to VHS. It's hard to say what problems are due to the source material and what can be blamed on the DVD transfer (though I'm guessing the source of the fairly frequent instances of dot crawl and digital artifacting is the latter), but it's watchable, at least on a standard TV screen.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English Stereono


Audio Transfer Review: This basic stereo mix is serviceable, though dialogue sounds a little muffled at times.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The Potluck trailer is included in a reel of clips for low-budget, direct-to-video releases from Ardustry, and that's all you get in terms of extras. The feature is presented without subtitles.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Maybe it's the simple fact that I didn't have very high expectations for a film produced by a magazine dedicated to pornographic displays of cannabis (including, seriously, bud centerfolds), but I was surprised by High Times' Potluck. It's not a great comedy, but it is a far better, more coherent, and more ambitious than a low-budget stoner comedy has any right to be.

 


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