Friday, September 14, 2018

'Evil Bong: High-5' is low quality (but an improvement over the last entry)

Evil Bong: High-5 (2016)
Starring: John Patrick Jordan, Sonny Carl Davis, Mindy Robinson, Bob Ramos, Chance A. Rearden, Rorie Moon, Amy Paffrath, Robin Sydney, and Raylin Joy
Director: Charles Band
Producers: Charles Band and Nakai Nelson
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Rabbit (Davis), Larnell (Jordan), and the Gingerdead Man (Ramos) are forced by the Evil Bong to market her magical weed as part of her latest scheme for world domination. They must sell one million dollars worth in one month, or Sarah (Sydney) and Velicty (Paffrath) will suffer terrible fates in the Bong World. The task seems impossible... until old friends reappear and offer their assistance.

"Evil Bong: High-5" is a direct continuation of "Evil Bong 420" which ended with our "heroes" being drawn back into the Bong World after smoking magic weed that Rabbit had absconded with. The film also continues the format of the previous two films in the series in that it is basically a string of loosely connected skits where proprietors of a business (pot shop, bakery, bowling alley... whatever) interact with the weird and/or unpleasant characters that enter into their shop.

While I am weary of this format, it found it less annoying than I did last time out because there was less of a sense of filler this time. Each vignette either advanced the plot, provided character development, or was just outright funny. Yes--for the first time in a while, this is an Evil Bong movie that is funnier than it is boring. It felt like some actual effort went into writing the script, from the sharper dialogue through the obvious self-mockery of how blatant Charles Band has gotten about marketing novelty items and toys through product placement in his film. (The gag related to this wore a bit thin by the end, but it didn't outstay its welcome.)

I particularly appreciated that some thought went into providing a little development of the main characters in this film, with the way that Gingerdead Man was handled being especially well done. I also liked the bits involving Rabbit and his new power of Emptyhead--he's so drug-addled and his mind so devoid of reason that he can tap into a universal genius when he clears what little is in there. Once again, Sonny Carl Davis gets to be the most interesting part of an Evil Bong movie, even if John Patrick Jordan gets more screen-time.

Speaking of John Patrick Jordan, even though his character Larnell has more meat to it than it's perhaps ever had, Jordan gives the weakest performance he's given so far in the series. He's always tended toward being flat in this delivery, but he feels so detached in this outing that he becomes a dead spot in several scenes, becoming a drag rather than just a straight-man around which craziness unfolds. He even only gets to do his "eeep!' reaction--the one thing he did previously that was funny--once in the film.

Jordan's lackluster performance is one reason I ended up giving "Evil Bong: High-5" a Three Star-rating. Another factor was, for all the improvements in the script, the writer (and director for that matter) failed in one important area. Larnell and Rabbit are racing against the clock to save the girls who are still trapped in the Bong World, but there is never any sense that time is passing. While a month passes over the course of the movie, it feels more like a just a few days. I think even resorting to an old timey technique of showing pages falling off an calendar while transitioning between scenes would have gone a long way to heightening the tension in the film.

In the final analysis, I can't say "Evil Bong: High-5" is a good movie, but it is better than the previous two entries in the series. It features another non-ending and a promise that the story continues in yet another sequel ("Evil Bong 666"), but because this film actually had some story content and character development, I wasn't angered this time out. God help me, but I'm actually curious to see how Larnell and Gingerdead Man will get out of the situation they've been placed in following Rabbit's discovery of the Ultimate Level of Emptyhead.

Is this the beginning of the alleged improvement of the "Evil Bong" series? Here's hoping it is!

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