Actors: Ron Perlman, Kenny Wormald, Jonathan Daniel Brown, John C. McGinley
Director: John Stockwell
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Run Time: 90 minutes
Just because a story makes an interesting human interest piece in a newspaper or a magazine doesn’t always mean that it will transfer well into the medium of film. Fact may be more interesting than fiction at times, but that doesn’t mean that a narrative can be developed just by telling the facts without adding anything. The worst filmmakers think that simply slapping “based on a true story” in the intro will make up for the lack of effort. Kid Cannabis feels like a film made by someone too stoned to put forth the work needed for a newspaper article to become a film.
From the lackluster leading performance by Jonathan Daniel Brown (Project X) to a lazy voiceover heavy screenplay delivered by the obnoxiously written protagonist, the best elements of John Stockwell’s film are clearly the ones that existed without him having to lift a finger. The failure comes with everything he contributed, and failed to contribute, as a writer and director. Stockwell reminds me of the student who would refashion a paper from a previous assignment to save himself any added work, and all of Kid Cannabis feels like a rehash of far superior films.
Maybe the most obnoxious element of the film is Stockwell’s indecisiveness about how to present the material, both condemning and glorifying the exact same behavior from one moment to the next. It feels as though the filmmaker is attempting to win over the younger audiences likely to enjoy mindless escapism like Project X, filling scenes with senseless nudity and excessive partying, while tacking on an unconvincing moralistic core to the storyline at the last second. This may have worked better with a more enigmatic protagonist, but we are given an awkward and greedy geek who comes off like Mark Zuckerberg with a dull edge.
Without the clever quips, intelligent ideas or arrogant charm, Kid Cannabis’ Nate Norman (Brown) is just irritating. And not for a single second did Brown come off as anything other than completely wrong for this role. The filmmakers clearly hired him to try and cash in on the success of Project X, and the only thing added to the screenplay seems to be the trashiness from a party movie, which does absolutely nothing to enhance the story being told. The strongest portions of the film are also the shortest, as well as being the most significant, and these are the moments which actually show the business aspects of
criminal endeavors in the drug smuggling game. Ron Perlman plays a criminal
kingpin bankrolling the operation, and John C. McGinley is the Canadian grower
supplying the primo plants. They essentially only have one sequence within the
film apiece, but they are able to elevate the lazy dialogue in ways that none
of the younger cast members can manage. If there were half as many party
sequences as there were scenes with these two actors, Kid Cannabis might have actually worked as a film for audiences
that aren’t too stoned to realize how lazy the filmmaking is. Norman
The Blu-ray does nothing to enhance the film, even though it is peppered with stylized photography and a bass-heavy soundtrack. This film may be all style and very little substance, but even the spectacle is not impressive enough for high definition presentation. The special features are also missing. Filming behind-the-scenes material probably would have been too much work, and I’m almost impressed that this film itself was even completed with the half-ass amount of effort put into its construction.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3.5/10
Historical Significance: 2/10