Half-Baked

With the exception of the 1995 Ice Cube vehicle Friday, Half-Baked represents Hollywood's first big drug-oriented comedy since the heyday of Cheech & Chong in the '70s and early '80s. While it's nice to see a film approach recreational drug use with something other than melodramatic horror or simplistic condemnation, Half-Baked is a shambling, uneven comedy that's far too insubstantial to make much of an impression one way or another. David Chappelle, Guillermo Díaz, Harland Williams (RocketMan) and Jim Breuer star as barely employed, latent-homosexual stoners living lives of stoned contentment in New York City. All this changes, however, after Williams is thrown in jail for accidentally killing a police horse, and the boys are forced to band together to sell drugs in order to raise money for his bail. It's moronic and sophomoric, of course, and loaded with simplistic, obvious gags involving such perennial sources of drug humor as the munchies, stoned animals, dumb hippies and their affection for the Grateful Dead, and that drug-film staple, the wacky scene in which police officers inadvertently get stoned. How subversive! Chappelle, who has turned in scene-stealing performances in The Nutty Professor and Con Air, is likable enough, but he doesn't have the presence or charisma to rise above his weak script. The main problem, however, is Tamra Davis' leaden direction, which prevents Half-Baked from developing comic momentum. There are a few scattered laughs, and the film is pleasant and sweet enough to satisfy its less-than-discriminating core audience, but Half-Baked just isn't consistently funny enough to be worth seeing.

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