Posted: 04/26/2008


Super High Me


by Jef Burnham

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Doug Benson mused in his standup routine that he’d like to make his own documentary based on Morgan Spurlock’s McDonald’s experiment in Super Size Me, only in Benson’s version his 30 days would consist of smoking marijuana from the moment he awoke until he climbed back into bed. It just so happened that Michael Blieden, actor and director of numerous standup specials such as Zach Galifianakis: Live at the Purple Onion, heard the routine and approached Benson with serious intent to follow through with it. And it is absolutely hysterical.

The documentary features commentary on marijuana and Benson’s experiences with it from standup comedians such as Bob Odenkirk, Dana Gould, and Zach Galifianakis. Benson’s commentary on the experiment is told partially in talking head-style interviews and partially through jokes in his routine. He takes an occasional test to see the effects of the drug on his system, and the film also features some incredibly illuminating footage following the crisis in California over the state’s legalization of medical marijuana.

The film is in no way as informational as Spurlock’s, since it is basically half standup showcase for Benson and his friends, but it makes up for lack of information in hilarity. Anyone expecting it to be educational really doesn’t understand the stoner mentality. If you go into the film looking for anything but a good time, you will surely be disappointed.

However, the film’s depiction of the situation in California is anything but funny. For those of you unaware, the State of California declared that marijuana may be purchased at licensed dispensaries for medical purposes only, meaning you have to have a doctor’s written consent to purchase the drug. The only problem with this is that the State laws are not recognized by the DEA, which is a federal organization. The film shows upwards of 40 federal agents busting some 10-15 marijuana dispensaries in the span of a couple days. One disgruntled onlooker says it all: As the DEA agents load the boxes of medical records and marijuana into vans, a man screams out, “Bust a meth lab, pussies!” Though I personally do not use drugs or condone their use, it occurs to me that all the time and tax money our government spends on busting those who use and sell marijuana might be better spent in the prevention of drugs that are actually addictive and deadly, or even redirect those funds into health care. Anything other than marijuana.

Political statements aside, let me finish this up with a little something the film made me think about. In one scene, Benson, comedian Sarah Silverman, guitarist Dave Navarro and others are getting stoned in a dressing room. At some point, Navarro is playing guitar so loudly the others have to shout over him, generally harshening up the tone of the room. The point behind me telling you this story is: Has anyone ever been a room full of stoners where someone is not obnoxiously playing a guitar?

Jef Burnham is a film critic living in Chicago.

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