Film Review: Kid Cannabis

Chock-full of funny lines and deliciously skewed attitude, this hazy <i>Kid</i> is worth adopting.

A sybaritic orgy of delight for any and all sybarites who worship at the Church of Bong, Kid Cannabis smokes out the true story of a kid named Nate Norman (Jonathan Daniel Brown), who went from lowly Idaho pizza delivery boy to running a million-dollar business smuggling weed out of Canada, employing a cadre of his dazed, like-minded buddies.

Writer-director John Stockwell finds the perfect loose yet manic tone for his ode to weed, filling his script with mordantly pungent lines, most of which are included in Nate's often hilarious voiceover narration. He disses his chief nemesis and villain of the piece, rival young drug lord Brendan Butler (Aaron Yoo), who "went to sleep on the dirt floor of a Korean orphanage and woke up in a mansion on Coeur d'Alene Lake with a silver spoon up his ass. No good deed goes unpunished, however: He rewarded his rich Daddy Warbucks by becoming the biggest, loudest drug dealer in town. He dealt his overpriced weed to the rich kids at Gonzaga Prep while us public school kids got the sticks and seeds."

Nate describes his struggling single mom, who supports the family, as "working shitty jobs to provide three hots and a cot for me and my little bro." His funny mea culpa for getting high: "Man makes liquor. Nature makes weed. Who do you trust? Give me a pothead over a drunk any day. Drive drunk, you're going ninety and think it's thirty. Drive high, you're driving thirty and think it's ninety. You stop at red lights twice."

The first half of the film is populated by an ingratiating bunch of stoners, an initially scary Canadian cop who instructs Nate and his bestie Topher (Kenny Wormald) on where to score, and a couple of big-time dealers, amusingly played by a gruff, Germanic (I believe) Ron Perlman and John C. McGinley, who really shines as a pot grower, with a gorgeous wife and daughter (for Topher to lay), and a definite connoisseur's palette. Leading the boys on a tour of his wonderama of a greenhouse, McGinley has them sniff away, comparing buds and observing, "That one can't carry this one's jockstrap. This one has a very sweet, hash-y taste and it finishes with a Christmas cake mix of tropical fruity flavors. It will drop you like owl shit on a forest floor."

The boys' initial camou-clad treks through forest and highway to cross the hundred miles over the border and back with their contraband are sheer laugh-inducers of fear and haplessness, but the film sags a little—as all such films do—when it's time to pay the piper, and it becomes a more conventional Crime Does Not Pay treatise. Brendan comes back on the scene for a lot of not-so-funny, competitive gangbanging, as the Feds close in on Nate (who eventually served a dozen years in prison).

Chubby, cherubic, bespectacled Brown, with his killer comic timing, is absolutely adorable as Nate, and will probably be the new go-to guy for all the scruffy roles Jonah Hill has outgrown, now that he has shrunk into a more appropriate leading-man shape. Wormald gets to show a less All-American-scrubbed side to him than in Footloose, and is funny with an air-freshener tag dangling from the bill of his baseball cap, crashing Brendan's exclusive costume party and announcing, "I'm a leaf blower." Brown, even funnier, is dressed as a movie theatre floor.  That kind of antic, unpredictable, sideways humor is what woozily sets Kid Cannabis—so superior to the grating, overrated ordure that was Spring Breakers—well above the crowd of stoner flicks.

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