'How High' signals pot comedy return

The marijuana comedy is back.

Oh, the fashions may be hip-hop baggy instead of beads and bell bottoms, but "How High" is a direct descendant of Cheech & Chong flicks like "Up In Smoke" and "Nice Dreams" � with a splash of "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Animal House" thrown in for good measure.

"How High," though, makes those earlier films seem positively sophisticated.

Rappers Redman and Method Man star as Jamal and Silas, a couple of guys from the 'hood who stumble across some magical weed that allows them to ace their college placement exams and land scholarships to Harvard.

Silas is a natural botanist who has a marijuana garden growing in his apartment. He fertilizes one of his plants with the ashy remains of a friend who died in a fiery accident; when the weed is smoked, it conjures up the spirit of the dear departed, who has a direct pipeline into all the knowledge of the universe. Sort of like the ultimate lifeline on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

As long as their stash holds out, Silas and Jamal can't fail. Which leaves plenty of time for chasing women, getting high and shaking up square Ivy League minds.

Cheech and Chong invariably played characters made stupid by dope; Jamal and Silas, on the other hand, are depicted as very cool specimens who bring the joys of urban awareness to the uptight college crowd.

Most of the jokes are of the fast-talking, expletive-laced-insult variety. Either you find this stuff funny or you don't.

Some well-known faces wander through the film: Hector Elizondo as a scull coach, Fred Willard as a stuffy administrator, Jeffrey Jones as a big-shot politician and most memorably Spalding Gray as a black studies teacher.

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