'High Road' tries excruciatingly hard to be about something more than a loser who smokes pot all day; it fails. It's difficult to imagine the real reason 'High Road' was even made into a movie. Even with its cast of recognizable actors, the movies still has massive trouble trying to overcome its many faults.
Glenn (James Pumphrey) is a wastoid stoner who appears to be in a constant state of heavy perspiration. Despite his un-showered look that some may call hobo-chic, Glenn has continues the hipster movie trend of unwashed slobs somehow being able to land good-looking, far-more-capable-than-them women. This is a startling trend in mumblecore movies nowadays. I can't count how many movies I've seen lately where doofy men with scraggly beards inexplicably date hot, well-adjusted women who usually have better jobs than they do. Here it's no different. Monica (Abby Elliott) is Glenn's girlfriend. Why? That's the question this movie should've spent it's time answering. Instead we're just supposed to believe that Monica, a pretty young woman with a promising career at a local TV station, would shack up with a perpetual loser/drug dealer like Glenn. It boggles the mind.
Further complicating things is Jimmy (Dylan O'Brien), a neighborhood kid who desperately wants to get away from his dick of a father. Jimmy hops a ride with Glenn and suddenly we have a road trip movie.
'High Road' tries to distance itself from other road trip movies by going with, from what I could tell, a completely improvised script. I wouldn't be surprised if director Matt Walsh simply came to his cast members with a rough outline of how the scene should play out and then they went for it. The problem here is that most of the actors (especially Pumphrey) aren't as skilled as other improvisational actors, say, like the actors on 'Reno 911.' Pumphrey hems and haws his way through scenes simply repeating lines of dialogue over and over instead of actually trying to make the scene worth watching. He even drags down seasoned comedic actors like Ed Helms, Joe Lo Truglio, and Rob Riggle.
I think I laughed once, maybe twice, during the entire runtime of 'High Road.' Those couple laughs came from newcomer Dylan O'Brien who was in a far better film which I saw at this year's Sundance Film Festival called 'The First Time.' O'Brien, even though he was a newbie when they filmed this movie, acts circles around Pumphrey who makes the entire movie nigh unwatchable.
The movie tries to pack in about half a dozen ridiculous subplots – like Jimmy's father tracking them down with a friend of his that failed the police academy. There's even a strange, icky scene where Lizzy Caplan is sitting behind Matt Jones popping his back zits. Yeah, comedic gold right there, huh?
There's no reason that you should waste your time watching or even thinking about 'High Road.' Maybe you saw the list of comedian cast members and thought you'd give it a try. Don't. Just don't. You'll thank me.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Millennium Entertainment release comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. The movie has been pressed onto a 25GB Blu-ray Disc.
'High Road' features a rather flat, unimpressive HD digital look. Some fine detailing is evident, especially in faces and textures, but the digital look of the movie kills much of the film's dimensional depth.
There's nothing aggressively wrong or ugly about this transfer, it's simply a very mundane look. Colors are a tad muted. Skin tones appear natural however. Edges appear a little too sharp for their own good as halos can be seen scattered around the movie. Other artifacting includes banding and aliasing which are pretty prevalent throughout. Blacks seem flat, as do shadows.
The movie has its moments, but on the whole it's a fairly average video presentation.
'High Road's sound is presented in a serviceable, but uneventful Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix.
The best sounding this soundtrack gets is during the opening where Glenn and his band perform their last song. The drums, guitar and vocals fill each channel providing and encompassing effect. After that the movie moves toward a very traditional mix. Rear channels are all but shut out of the equation. The haphazard dialogue is presented cleanly in the front speakers, but as people talk over each other it's always hard to pick up every word that's been said. Other sound effects – like gunshots – have little oomph. The sub-woofer really only sees action during the opening song.
Like the video presentation, the audio here is forgettable too.
There's little to no information out there about this unknown independent film. I usually hope to champion tiny, low-budget movies like this, but it's impossible for me to do so here. Perhaps it's the "been there done that" storyline, the incessantly pretentious mumblecore, or the completely unlikable lead (probably all of the above), but 'High Road' is nearly unwatchable. Almost painful to sit through at times. Take my advice and skip this one altogether.