High School

Author: Josh Stalberg, Jr. & Stephen Susco
Genre: Comedy
Storyline: 8
Dialogue: 5
Characterization: 8
Writer’s Potential: 7

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Logline:

To avoid failing a mandatory school-wide drug test, a nerd partners with a stoner to rig the results by getting the entire student body high.

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Charlyne Pham gets high before going onstage for a spelling bee. She humiliates herself, her drug use is exposed and reported on the news. Two scenes are intercut: nerdy HENRY SPITS’ perfect morning as he wakes to opera and goes jogging while practicing French and his literature final speech, versus stoner TRAVIS BREAUX going to the beach with goofball friends BIG DAVE and LITTLE DAVE. In the school parking lot, Breaux’s burrito explodes, causing him to nearly crash into Henry, who swerves out of the way and hits the car belonging to DR. GORDON, the school dean. Gordon’s freshman son, MARTIN, is at the wheel, and he starts crying. Henry apologizes all over himself and blames Breaux.

Dr. Gordon discusses “Pham-gate” with BRANDON, who spoke with the school board. They’re losing donors left and right. Gordon blames the stoners. Brandon leaves, and Gordon’s secretary, TAMIKA, enters the office. Gordon makes lewd advances. Henry finds Breaux and confronts him about the car accident, insisting he should pay for the damages. They insult each other as other students watch, and Breaux tops Henry, who slinks away. Henry does an oral presentation for his physics class, showing off a protective compound he’s developed by setting off an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which fries one computer but leaves another (swabbed with the compound) undamaged. In detention, A/V guy MALCOLM sets up a video for Breaux and a bunch of thugs to watch, on the dangers of marijuana.

After school, Breaux apologizes to Henry. They talk for awhile and it becomes clear that they were once good friends. They start talking about an old tree fort, then Breaux insists that they go and find it. At the fort, Breaux pulls out a joint. He encourages Henry to smoke it, which he does. It makes him incredibly paranoid. Breaux tries to take the edge off by going back to his place and playing video games. Henry realizes he’s late for bake-sale prep, so Breaux drives him. SEBASTIAN, Henry’s nemesis who is vying for valedictorian, taunts him. Henry catches sight of Gordon with a news crew, making a proud announcement that he’s expelled Pham and will be holding a school-wide drug test on the last day of school, and anyone who tests positive will be expelled immediately.

Henry goes back to Breaux’s house and demands a way to clear the THC from his body before tomorrow. Breaux has solutions, but none of them are 100% guaranteed. Henry’s horrified and angry — he’ll lose his scholarship to MIT and never make anything of himself. Breaux is sympathetic but can’t do anything. Later, Breaux comes to Henry’s window and tells him he came up with a brilliant solution: instead of finding a way to make Henry sober, he’s found a way to get everyone in school high — by spiking the bake-sale brownies — which means Gordon will have to throw away the results or hold another test after Henry’s system is clear. Henry’s dubious but desperate. They shop for brownie ingredients, and Henry asks if he has enough weed. Henry doesn’t, but he knows where to find it. He explains about a guy called PSYCHO ED, who has an elaborate pot farm well known for being the highest quality. His plan is to break into Ed’s compound and steal some of his weed. Henry is a significant part of the plan. While Breaux distracts Ed by making a buy, Henry has to sneak past, steal Ed’s keys, get into the grow room, and steal a jar of his stash.

While Ed reveals himself to be as psychotic as his reputation, Henry manages to grab the keys and sneak past. Just as he grabs the jar, music blares and misters come on, frightening Henry so much he drops the jar — and barely catches it before it hits the ground. Still, it raises the attention of Ed’s Pomeranian guard dog. Henry manages to sneak through a back entrance while Ed peers into the grow room. He makes it out onto the porch when Ed notices him and demands to know who he is. Henry hides the jar on the porch, pretends like he’s coming in, says he’s Breaux’s ride. Ed leaves him alone. Somehow, Henry has to get the keys back across the room. When Ed’s head is turned, Henry throws the keys to Breaux, getting Ed’s attention when the arc goes past his head, and Breaux replaces them without Ed seeing a thing. Henry bakes the brownies. Breaux tests them out — perfection.

The next day, Gordon has invited the most generous donors to tour the campus and see how great the school is. Henry and Breaux lock the bake-sale parents in the weight room and replace the regular brownies with their pot brownies. Students line up to buy the brownies. Henry goes to homeroom and is disappointed to see people eating multiple brownies with little effect. Then, one student becomes convinced his hands are webbed, and the A/V kids on the morning announcements are high as a kite. Henry’s pleased. Outside, kids line up for their drug tests. Henry finds Breaux, because at this point he’s a little concerned by how high these people are. Breaux mutters that he accidentally spilled.

Sebastian, sober, announces that somebody locked the parents in the weight room, and he’s glad Gordon installed security cameras after the Pham incident. Breaux tries to give him a brownie, but Sebastian is allergic to chocolate. Henry’s concerned about the cameras — they have to get the footage, and in order to do that, they need to know where the cameras are. They decide to look for Martin, Gordon’s son. Gordon and the donors watched stoned chess team members attempt a game. Henry and Breaux eventually find Martin having a fit by a tree. Turns out, he’s eaten 14 of the brownies. Breaux tricks Martin into telling him how to get to the video footage — they need Gordon’s keys. Gordon has the donors listen to the stoned marching band, who can’t play a lick. Brandon mentions students have been complaining about dizziness and light-headedness, and he speculates there’s a gas leak. Gordon thinks somebody’s trying to foil him. Meanwhile, Sebastian finds the discarded non-pot brownies in the dumpster. Henry throws up in the bathroom while Breaux tries to calm him down. Then, Psycho Ed finds them. He wants to know what happened to his stash, and Breaux insists they’ll get him the bake-sale money. Ed gives them one hour and says the money will only hold him off until after school. Henry throws up again, so he makes Breaux find out where Gordon is while Henry takes a final.

Breaux finds it out, so after the final, he and Henry sneak under the bleachers and grab Gordon’s keys while he stands and talks to the donors. They go to the secret surveillance room door, try all the keys, but none of them work. Henry’s watch beeps, telling them they have 10 minutes to get the money for Ed. They try to figure out how to get past Tamika and into Gordon’s office. Henry says he’ll need a distraction, and Breaux has one. He convinces Little Dave — who, along with Big Dave, has gotten into the small remaining stash and ended up in the teacher’s lounge — to live his longtime fantasy: skateboarding off the roof and grinding the rails below. This creates a major diversion, but also keeps Breaux’s full attention — but he’s supposed to be a lookout for Henry. Without a lookout, Gordon ends up back in his office, with Henry hiding under his desk. Luckily, a phone call gets Gordon back out of the room. Henry finds both the money — locked in a filing cabinet — and a folder laying out the whole surveillance system.

Henry goes to another final, where his stoned history teacher rambles on about the word “beverage.” A NURSE drags Henry out to take his drug test. As he hands over the urine, Henry watches Martin on a stretcher, having a hallucinogenic fit. Breaux approaches, admiring what they’ve accomplished. Henry flips on him, angry about Breaux’s ever-sunny attitude. Breaux confronts him, sick of being blamed for Henry getting high when it was Henry’s decision. He moves on to why they stopped being friends, and the words cut Henry deeply. Sebastian approaches and says he’s pieced together every crime Henry and Breaux have committed today, and he’s going to turn Henry in. Henry agrees to throw his English final to keep from getting caught — salutatorian is good enough for Henry to keep his scholarship. In the teacher’s lounge, high teachers describe their feelings, and Brandon realizes what everyone has been suffering and has the brownies confiscated. Henry goes to his English final and makes a half-assed speech about Hamlet that stirs everyone, causing an eruption of applause. Sebastian is livid and goes to Gordon. Meanwhile, a mysterious “figure” watches the footage of Henry and Breaux switching the brownies. He calls Brandon, who asks him to burn a copy and bring it to Dr. Gordon. Tamika accidentally sprinkles weed into Gordon’s coffee.

Breaux calls Henry and tells him he’s going to take the full blame before Sebastian can rat him out. Henry catches something on the file he stole from Gordon — all the video footage is stored on hard drives. He tries to tell Breaux not to confess, but he can’t get through. As the “figure” burns a DVD, Henry rushes to get his EMP device from the physics lab, drives it next to the school library, and engages it — shutting off all the electrical equipment just before the DVD completes. Henry goes to Gordon’s office just as Malcolm arrives, apologizing the delay but producing a completed DVD. Only it’s not Henry and Breaux — it’s Gordon harassing Tamika. The police show up in time to see it and drag him away. Breaux and Henry split a pot brownie and agree to hang out more often. End titles show a happy endings for all but Gordon.

Comments:

This script is well-crafted in a number of ways. Its intricate, well-executed plot does a great job of piling on new goals and obstacles keeping Henry and Breaux from those goals. Although the “villain” characters are typically cartoonish for this type of comedy, Henry and Breaux are both strong, multifaceted characters who go beyond the “nerd” and “stoner” stereotypes. Even its message isn’t nearly as irresponsible as one might expect from a pot comedy, veering toward the anti-pot end of the spectrum (or, at least, preaching a “get high in moderation” mentality).

Where it struggles is with the jokes, which might be the worst thing for a comedy. The situations the writers have put these characters in can be mined for laughs — everything about the setups is great. But when it comes time to execute the barrage of jokes, they’re mostly duds. The funniest moments are quite literally pilfered from other comedies (Dazed & Confused, The Big Lebowski, Hot Fuzz, among others), which is problematic. Another pass or two to really punch up the dialogue and the comic set-pieces would help quite a bit.

While that is a significant problem for a comedy, in terms of the other elements that form a dramatic story, this script is about as close to a winner as a pot comedy can get.

Obviously, it’s trying to hit the stoner demographic. It will also appeal to fans of low-brow/gross-out humor. The high school setting could draw in teenagers, but the fact that it’s clearly looking at an R rating might diminish those numbers. Nonetheless, it will appeal to high schoolers over 17 and will most likely be a hit among college students.

Posted by D. B. Bates on October 15, 2008 7:16 PM