You may recall a jaunty little tune from 2011 called Young Wild and Free by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa. If you saw the music video, you might think that it’s making fun of dopey movie soundtracks because scenes from what appears to be a REALLY terrible high school movie are being played during the video. What a great gag, right? Harkening back to the days when soundtracks would overshadow the terrible films they were written for! Wait, they actually made that movie? And it’s on Netflix? And Timmy is trapped in a well? I’m not sure how to solve that last thing, but I guess I now have to watch this crap. Get ready everyone, because we’re about to take a look at Mac and Devin go to High School!
The movie begins by introducing us to the narrator of this piece. He will be coming in and out of the film at regular intervals to guide us through the complex range of emotions we will surely feel while watching this film. Our “Greek Chorus” if you will. He’s also a poorly rendered talking joint called Slow Burn.
This is what we’re in for folks; an anthropomorphic CGI spliff who tells us right off the bat that the movie is going to suck if we don’t smoke pot first. No seriously, he spends five minutes telling us to go out and buy some wacky tobacky if we don’t already have some nearby. After giving us this warning (and inviting us to join him in the inaugural smoke), he starts the movie that we all came here to see. Now as terrible as the opening was, the beginning of the movie proper is actually coming off as decent. The soundtrack is naturally good considering the whole point of this movie was to sell it, and the director does a great job of setting up this world in a very short amount of time. Okay, there’s not THAT much to set up (everyone loves weed apparently), but the competence on display here is giving me hope that the movie won’t be as bad as that asshole Slow Burn told us it would be. Our setup here is that Wiz Khalifa plays a smart student who’s about to graduate as the Valedictorian of North Hale high school. Oh, I get it! N HALE!? Hilarious!!! No, not really. Wiz’s character (Devin) is wound up pretty tight, but he’s not a stereotypical nerd. Hell, they don’t even give him glasses to wear! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW HE’S A NERD WITHOUT THEM!?
The other major player in this story is Snoop Dogg who plays Mac, a guy who’s repeated the twelfth grade ten times and doesn’t look to be graduating any time soon. That’s okay though, because he’s carved out a nice little niche as this school’s weed supplier and seems to have an INSANE amount of business. Seriously, considering how much he sells just in this opening scene, he’s got to be a Hizenberg level producer.
Oh, and did you know Andy Milinokus is in this film? Wait, do any of you even remember who that is? The last thing I remember him in was Waiting, which was a mediocre one upping of Office Space that’s only remembered nowadays because Ryan Remolds was in it. Andy plays Knees Down who’s in a wheelchair and is a bad ass ladies’ man (at least for a high school student).
I’ve gotta say, this movie is really working for me right now. It’s clearly low budget, but nothing feels half assed, and they aren’t necessarily trying to go for the low hanging fruit. Oh wait, the asshole assistant principal acts super prissy.
Eh… I’ll let it slide. It’s almost a requirement at this point that “the man” in these kinds of movies have to be portrayed as stuffy. Still, there’s nothing wrong with Bonsai trees! This of ALL movie should appreciate the hard work it is to grow plants!! Mac wants to break into the guy’s office for some reason, and drags along a disposable female character (who will unfortunately not be the last one in this flick). After the two of them successfully get into the guy’s office, we cut to a class a room that’s being taught by Mike Epps. Of course he’s in this movie. What the hell else was he doing!?
He’s actually pretty terrible in this. I don’t know if he’s trying to be goofy, effeminate, or incompetent, but he’s doing a poor job at all three. The assistant principal drops by at the request of Professor Epps in order to punish these kids for… I don’t know. The movie doesn’t tell us. While this is going on, Mac is searching the guy’s office looking for the weed that the principal confiscated from him. Of course that’s what he’s looking for. The two of them eventually find it in a safe that they have no trouble breaking into, and we’re WELL overdue for some prop humor at this point.
Not only do they start smoking it in the Assistant Principals’ office, but Mac accidently hits the intercom button, and they can be heard throughout the school talking about “how big it is.” Get it? Yeah… this movie’s starting to wear thin for me. Remember what I said about low hanging fruit? Forget about that. Mac and disposable hot female #3512 get caught by the blustery Assistant Principal, but we cut back to Devin before we find out what their punishment is. Graduation is not too far off (I thinks it’s probably a week or two away), and he hasn’t prepared a speech yet, so he tries to practice in the locker room mirror. It’s a really good scene here because it tells us a lot about the character without having to be too blatant about it. Okay fine, the struggles to write a graduation speech as a metaphor for being unsure about ones future is well trodden territory, but considering the last gag in this movie was about comparing a comically oversized joint to a penis; I’ll take what I can get. I also get the sense that while Wiz Khalifa is NOT a good actor, he’s REALLY good at being Devin. He LOOKS nervous and wound up (which I assume he had to have been considering he’s never acted in a movie before) so it comes off as authentic. Anything else though is well beyond the skills of this young rapper.
After his fruitless attempts to hammer out an acceptable speech, he goes outside and meets up with his girlfriend. She’s not necessarily a disposable hot female, but she still not what you’d call a character. Let’s call her an exposition robot.
It gets worse. Our favorite CGI abomination has some choice words for this non-character.
NO ONE WANTS YOU AROUND SLOW BURN!! You’re just fucking with the pacing of this film! He spouts some misogynistic bullshit about “controlling bitches” and then fucks off so that we can get back to what we were watching before being so RUDLEY interrupted. Mac is in the principal’s office where he’s about to be expelled by the Assistant Principal. While this seems to be a VERY sensible thing to do, Mac is saved when the actual principal of this school comes in and lets him off the hook. It turns out he’s been banging her for a while now in order to get a free pass. You know, I’d normally be annoyed by a character like this that just skirts by and cons his way through life, but Snoop Dogg has so much charisma oozing out of him that I can’t help but like his character.
Before these two can get busy, there’s a knock at the door and the principal answers it. She turns out to be a substitute teacher (yeah right) who gets the attention of Mac and everyone else in the school.
Yeah, she looks younger the Wiz and about half as smart. She’s there to serve precisely two purposes (which means she’s technically not a Disposable Hot Female); she forces Devin and Mac to work together on a chemistry project, and she gives Mac a reason to want to graduate. Apparently Mac wants to bang her (an understandable feeling) but can’t because she won’t date students. So now we finally have our plot for this movie. Wiz and Mac both have reasons to finish this project, they’re personalities will inevitable clash, and they’ll both learn from each other to be better and more well-rounded people. After school, Devin goes straight to the library and waits for Mac to show up so they can get started on the project. Mac rolls in some time later and seduces the librarian into letting him smoke pot in the library.
The study session goes about as well as you’d expect (Mac dicks around while Devin gets frustrated) so they take a break where Devin tries to get a snack to fix his low blood sugar. Luckily, Mac has a tasty treat on hand that’ll fix him right up! If you didn’t get what that meant, our annoying CGI Towelie knock off interrupts the movie to helpfully explain this to us.
The snack cake is filled with pot, so Devin starts tripping pretty quickly. I can’t say I know what’s like to be high on weed, but I’ll give the filmmakers credit here in that they give us a pretty good trip sequence. Then the movie stops dead in its tracks to give us a music video. Are you at all surprised? Considering how lightweight this movie is (and that our two leads are muscians), I’m not too perturbed by this tangent. The song is pretty good and the video is… well the song is good at least.
The music video just kind of ends and we find Mac and Devin at a food truck trying to quell the rumblies in their tumblies. This is where we get into the biggest problem of the movie, which is that it decides to meander for the next half hour. The entire second act just drops the plot and instead follows Mac and Devin while they NOT do their science project. I mean, what’s the point of establishing stakes for these characters if you’re gonna spend half the movie ignoring them just to dick around with lame pot humor? Devin (now COMPLETELY transformed into a pot loving bad boy) goes to get a tattoo and then hangs out at Mac’s place where they watch a movie of Affion Crockett acting like a fucking idiot.
After smoking more weed and eventually passing out, the two of them wake up the next day and head to school. Devin is still trying to think of a valedictorian speech which is still not going well. He finds Knees Down in the bathroom and decides to hang out with him which we can tell is something he would normally never do. I actually like this scene because it shows some positive growth for Devin. He would barely talk to anyone and would catch shit from Knees Down, but now that he’s taken the stick out of his ass, they can talk on friendly terms. In fact, we find out why Andy Milinokus’s character is named Knees Down. Turns out he’s only paralyzed from the knees down (wink wink).
While we’re still recovering from seeing Andy’s O face, we cut to Professor Epps who’s being bribed by Mac into giving the answers for the math final. So let’s throw unethical into the giant pile of reasons to not like this guy. Also, it really defeats the purpose of this kind of movie if only ONE of the flawed main characters learns from the other. So far, it seems that Mac hasn’t learned a damn thing from Devin, and he still hasn’t had a single consequence for the way he’s lived his life up to this point. The closest thing he has to a crisis in this film is that he wants to bang someone who won’t instantly give up the ass to him. POOR MAC! Let me grab my violin real quick and knock out a sad tune. We cut from there to Mac’s apartment where Devin arrives with the materials for their chemistry experiment. Apparently Devin’s plan is to discover a renewable energy source because that’s what smart people do apparently. They have a hilarious montage of bullshit science where they try to make bubbling blue liquid power a lightbulb. Also this.
They’re experiments don’t work but it doesn’t seem to bother them too much because they stop what they’re doing to host the third annual Hemptathalon. Yeah, a bunch of people come over (including Knees Down) to smoke pot and blow the best clouds or something. What’s odd is that some of it is real smoke, but then other times it’s clearly CG.
Oh yeah, and then this happens.
Knees Down wins the contest (say what you will, but that does seem to be an impressive move) and we cut to sometime later where Devin is getting a shit ton more tattoos. I’m pretty sure this is here simply because Wiz was tired of covering them up.
So after a brief excursion back into the plot (with the whole renewable energy thing thrown in) the movie just decided to back into meandering mode because it’s easier than writing a cohesive story. We get some more random scenes where the two of them get high on oxygen at a dentist’s office, tells Devin’s girlfriend to fuck off, and Mac takes Devin to fuck a white woman.
The movie is about to enter the third act, so they have to throw in some contrived reason to separate our new best buddies. The cops raid the massage parlor where Wiz had just finished fucking the hooker and the two of them get arrested and thrown in jail for possession of marijuana (not for having sex with a prostitute though). What, so NOW there’s someone who gives a shit about possession in the movie? Not even the assistant principal gave enough of a shit to call the cops when he confiscated Mac’s GIANT FUCKING JOINT!! This gives Devin pause to think about what he’s done in the past few days, which considering what conclusion he draws (it was all a bad idea) his reaction is pretty low key.
Devin gets bailed out by his ex-girlfriend, and the Mac and Devin of them appear to part ways. The next day in school, Devin is back to back to his old self (plus a bunch of tattoos) and is getting chewed out by his girlfriend. It’s also the day that the chemistry project is due! Wait, they only had two days to work on it? While this was happening, Mac got bailed out by two disposable honeys who decide to make out with each other as a means of distracting the audience for five seconds.
Mac ends up home and while smoking out (again) he starts flicking the ashes into the compound that Devin was trying to turn into a renewable energy source, and you can probably see where this is going. He heads to the school and makes it right before the teacher as about to fail them for not having a project. Mac then shows them his amazing discovery!
SO Mac and Devin pass their chemistry project, but there’s still one more test for Mac to take before he can graduate. Wait, why did he want to graduate? Oh right! He wants to bang the substitute teacher. I forgot all about that. Anyway, he’s in Professor Epp’s math class and is about to take the exam using the answers he got from the teacher. Then the assistant principal pops in and tells Mac that he’ll be taking a DIFFERENT test because he’s aware that Mac has the answers. Is this supposed to be a BAD thing? Think about it. Mac STILL hasn’t learned anything from becoming friends with Devin, so why WOULDN’T he suffer some consequences because of that? Is the movie saying that Mac was living his life PERFECTLY FINE before he became friends with Devin? His drive to graduate isn’t even motivated by Devin’s example! It’s just to fuck the hot teacher!! What kind of character arc is this movie trying to have for this character!? Is THIS why Slow Burn wants me to smoke pot? Do pot heads don’t care about basic storytelling techniques and character arcs!? The assistant principal gives Mac a single question to answer, and if he can do it he can graduate. Okay…
Mac still doesn’t have to learn anything or suffers consequences for his actions, because Mike Epps mimes him the answer, which is Y (WRONG!! The answer is 1. Back me up math students!). So Mac gets to graduate, and Devin gets to be Valedictorian. It’s the big day and Devin still doesn’t really know what to say. When he gets on stage, he finally decides to go “fuck it” and starts singing the lyrics Young Wild and Free. Thus the movie ends with a big dance number of that song, which is incidentally the best thing to come out of this god awful film. THE END!!
Except not really because we’re only sixty five minutes into this seventy five minute film. The movie spends TEN WHOLE MINUTES on credits, bloopers, and behind the scene footage.
I really shouldn’t be, but I’m actually disappointed by this movie. Once Slow Burn got off screen, there was actually something there at the beginning of the movie. It was at least a little bit grounded, and the set up with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa being forced together on a project actually had some potential. I think the biggest problem with this movie is that it’s just too damn reverent of Snoop Dogg and everything his character stands for, which just isn’t a whole lot. Mac is a boring character, yet everything this movie does circles around him and his way of life. Devin goes whole hog for Mac’s lifestyle, and the third act separation feels like a token effort at best. So what ultimately DOES Mac stand for? What does he do with his life that makes it worthy of filming? Well, he smokes a lot of pot and fucks around. That’s not enough to carry a movie and it definitely shows by this movie SOMEHOW being too long and meandering despite having such a short running time. It has its moments here and there (mostly with Devin’s character) but I really can’t recommend you see this. Still, that’s a damn good song, right?