Wu-Tang ?How High? ? Not very

Jason Okamoto

On the Wu-Tang album “Enter the 36 Chambers,” Method man is hassled by group-mate Raekwon, who shouts, “Hey yo Meth, where?s my ?Killer? tape at?” He is referring to the movie “The Killer,” by John Woo. The Wu-Tang Clan has also been known to use a good amount of samples taken from dubbed kung-fu films. Could Method Man maybe have a shot at making a kung-fu action extravaganza?

My expectations were high, as I?d been waiting to see the dynamic duo of Redman and Method Man blaze the big screen and blow my mind. The two artists were already established solo acts, and members of separate rap groups (Redman with Death Squad, and Method Man with the Wu-Tang Clan) before they teamed up to release “Blackout” in 2000.

Their voices alone could brush over one?s ear like sandpaper, just before their lyrics would puncture the brain, scrambling the neat order in which one kept their thoughts. It was only a matter of time before “the men” would get their own movie. Choosing to start off with a comedy seems ideal for any rapper who wants to get his feet wet in movies. Kid ?n? Play did it with “House Party” and Ice Cube did it with “Friday,” and they were both hits in the theater and on video. Who?s to blame Red and Meth for following the playbook?

Method Man has had some acting experience in the eye-popping “Belly” and in “Black and White,” a brilliant culture study about hip-hop?s affect on contemporary life. Redman has made videos both comic and surreal. I was expecting “How High” to be a tribute to their talents, or at least a tribute to weed; however, it turned out to be more like a tribute to the two movies mentioned earlier. Those movies were jubilant, while “How High” is agitating.

After smoking the weed from a plant that had been fertilized with a dead friend?s ashes, Silas and Jamal (Meth and Red) both score perfect on their educational placement tests. When the president of Harvard University (Fred Willard) recruits the two young men on the basis of their color, they make their way to the Ivy League. What jokes can be made about two pot-smoking black guys attending a school made up of almost all white people? Answer: all of the expected ones. The plot line is jumpy and discombobulated, but that?s not why it doesn?t work. It doesn?t work because it?s just not funny.

Redman gets an “A” for effort as he tries to earn laughs by his body language, but Method seems to just be following the script, for what it is.

The jokes in “How High” seem to be made by straight people making fun of high people. Method Man says that he writes his best rhymes when he?s high. Why didn?t he smoke a bowl and write the whole movie himself?