LIKE THE FLAILING CLOCKWORK TENTACLES of a steampunk octopus, High School is cool to look at but feels uncomfortably antiquated at times. The good parts of the film make for a solid millennial stoner comedy: earnest, mumbly, and sleek. The remainder of the movie is holdover teen hijinks from another decade. They usually don't mesh well together.
The plot could be mistaken for an edgy Archie adventure. Valedictorian and general nice guy Henry (Matt Bush) gets smoked out for the first time, only to discover that super square Dean Gordon (Michael Chiklis, unrecognizable with hair) has instituted a school-wide drug test. So naturally, it's up to Henry and chummy burnout Travis (Sean Marquette) to steal some superweed from local drug dealer Psycho Ed (Adrien Brody, unrecognizable not being a huge douche) and get the whole school high via bake sale pot brownies.
If that sounds contrived, well, it is.
In terms of character and dialogue, the filmmakers show evidence of having been to a high school in the last 10 years, which is nice and not always the case with these movies. But there are these weird, antiquated plot points that hold everything back: The dean isn't just square, he's the Aristotelian ideal of squareness. People don't get high in this movie, they get MOVIE high, which means they wig out and start humping furniture and do counterintuitive mischief that is required by the plot.
Like a dad at prom, these elements keep things from getting interesting. This isn't a satire or a spoof; High School has nothing in particular to say about the overwrought teen tropes of yesteryear. It just throws a few in and calls it a day. Even the girl's locker room scene feels perfunctory, which is an extremely difficult sentence for me to write.