Iï¿½m sure Iï¿½m not the only person wondering why on Earth a studio like Universal, with so many classics in their vault, would release Half Baked so quickly onto HD DVD. One can presumably assume that the only reason they chose to release it at this particular time is to bank on the recent popularity of David Chappelle. The only unfortunate part here is that Chappelleï¿½s performance, while sometimes funny, shows that his talent was best used elsewhere.
Thurgood Jenkins (Chappelle), Scarface (Guillermo Diaz), Kenny (Harlan Ellison), and Brian (Jim Breuer) are life-long friends who live together, talk together and obviously smoke together. Each holds a pretty decent life (Thurgoodï¿½s a janitor, Kenny is a school teacher, Scarface works at a fast-food joint and Brian works at a record store), but after a particularly good set of hits with their favorite choice of narcotic, Kenny is chosen to run out to grab some munchies. On the way out of the store, Kenny runs into a police officerï¿½s horse. Kenny proceeds to feed the officerï¿½s horse (not knowing itï¿½s a diabetic) until it keels over and dies. Kenny is soon arrested with bail set at $100,000. Luckily for our buddies, Thurgood finds out that his company tests marijuana. Their ingenious plan is to steal some and sell it. Unfortunately, a local drug lord isnï¿½t too happy when he hears of this. Add in the standard female attraction and you have a film that ultimately has a few laughs, but fails overall.
Regardless of what any critic says, Half Baked is the type of movie that everyone seems to love. Iï¿½ll be completely honest and admit that I had never seen this one before receiving this title in the mail. As a fan of Chappelle (mostly of his newer material), I expected a bit of humor especially considering Chappelle was involved in the writing of the film. Instead I got (I suppose it made sense considering the filmï¿½s subject matter) a film full of mostly silly jokes, which rarely made any sense. Sure youï¿½re thinking a film like this doesnï¿½t have to make sense at its essentially about the lives of four guys who get stoned all the time, but thatï¿½s not an excuse.
Maybe Iï¿½m being a bit harsh here. Even though most of the jokes were stupid, I couldnï¿½t help but feel that Chappelleï¿½s inner genius was slowly leaking out here onto the table for all to see. We all know what Chappelle has become and if this film has any merit, it helped to bring Chappelle to higher heights. I guess there is a positive in every situation huh?
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, I suppose Universal was trying to appeal to the stoner folk with the filmï¿½s use of colors.
As I mentioned above, the filmï¿½s color usage was great with vibrant blues, greens, yellows and reds. The filmï¿½s print, running around the 10-year mark, showed a little grain but didnï¿½t show any real evidence of compression issues. Detail was mixed with a few scenes showing a bit of softness resulting in little to no depth. Certainly not the first title weï¿½ll grab as a demo disc, but Half Baked looks decent enough.
This seems like quite the odd choice for a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Mix as the filmï¿½s is mostly dialogue. An oddity is that the SD-DVD side boasts a DTS 5.1 mix, which is nowhere to be found on the HD side.
I suppose we canï¿½t expect a lot from the genre of comedy when it comes to providing us with an aural experience. Dialogue was clear throughout never becoming an issue. Surround usage was pretty much dead with no real instances of discrete audio. Bass only really kicked in during some of the song selections. Like the video, Half Baked sounds decent enough.
A note of irritation here is that Universal decided to put the commentary track on the HD side. The rest of the features force us to flip over the disc.
- Audio Commentary with director Tamra Davis: Best known for her other comedy Happy Gilmore, Davis sits down and provides us with a bit of information on the various casting decisions, production and real-life inspirations for each character. I do wish Davis had a bit more to offer here as we do get a few sequences of silence.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get 10 minutes of deleted scenes. Like I had thought (given the film), most of the deleted scenes deserved to be left on the cutting room floor, as they didnï¿½t really add much to the filmï¿½s story. Only one scene, the extended scene, added a bit.
- Different Types of Smokers: More a joke than something that sound be taken serious, this 6 minute affair shows us the different methods one can use when they choose to light up.
- Five Minutes with The Guy on the Couch: YAWN! What a completely stupid feature as this is one of those read the title explanation feature.
- Grannyï¿½s Guide to Bakinï¿½: This one is kind of silly. Granny shows us a few different recipes that are suppose to cure our case of the munchies.
The biggest problem with a film like Half Baked is that the film has a premise that is suppose to funny, but never really is. The filmï¿½s draw in Dave Chappelle showed us the type of comedy the man was capable of (even though it wasnï¿½t ever fully showcased here), so I guess we can be grateful of that. As a HD disc, Universal has given us a fair transfer with decent audio and a few pretty dumb features highlighted with an interesting (if sometimes silent) commentary. Fans may want to pick up this one if they can find it cheap, but otherwise most will probably want to just rent this one, especially if theyï¿½re expecting 90 minutes of Chappelleï¿½s humor.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with director Tamra Davis
- Deleted Scenes
- Different Types of Smokers
- Five Minutes with The Guy on the Couch
- Granny’s Guide to Bakin’