Ah, marijuana. Is there anything funnier? If your answer is either “no” or “What was the question?,” then Doug Benson is the comedian for you. His pot documentary “Super High Me” follows his efforts to abstain from ganja for a month, followed by 30 days of nonstop highness, all in the interest of seeing what impact weed has on him. It’s science!
This isn’t a groundbreaking doc like its namesake, Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me,” was. Perhaps it’s fitting, given the subject matter, that “Super High Me” is low-key, light on statistics, and heavy on comedy. It does flirt briefly with California’s pot-friendly “medical marijuana” laws’ conflict with federal drug laws, and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution is even cited at one point. But don’t worry! You won’t have to think about anything too heavy.
Since Benson is a working comedian with a lot of gigs, and since he talks freely about the “Super High Me” project while it’s in progress, director Michael Blieden can chronicle a lot of Benson’s journey simply by showing us clips of his act. His jokes about going without weed for a month, and then about being stoned 24 hours a day, are often funny and always easy-going. Benson is not a particularly inventive or clever comedian, but he is consistently amusing and amiable. I note that he always looks stoned whether he is or not. No doubt that contributes to his target audience’s affection for him.
Meanwhile, the film has him undergo a few tests to gauge the effects of the marijuana. During his sober month (during which he doesn’t drink alcohol, either) he takes an SAT and various physical exams, including a check on his sperm count and lung capacity. He chats casually with his doctor, who says that as a private citizen he thinks marijuana should be legalized because it’s mostly harmless, but that as a doctor he’s concerned about people smoking a plant they didn’t grow, whose provenance and purity are always questionable. Good points on both sides, I suppose.
The film’s comedy, both in Benson’s act and in his daily life, relies heavily on one’s appreciation for (or tolerance of) pot humor. Personally, I get tired of comedians whose acts are almost exclusively on one subject: black comics who talk mainly about the differences between black people and white people; fat comics who talk about being fat; pot comics who only make jokes relating to the stoner lifestyle. They may be very funny performers, but a little of that goes a long way, I think.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that “Super High Me” is a niche documentary. It avoids any universal or thought-provoking issues, which limits whatever general appeal it might have had. And that’s fine, of course. Just don’t smoke this particular joint unless you’re already familiar with the buzz.
B- (1 hr., 30 min.; )