The Cannabis Cup (2003)

Written & Directed by Steven Hager


Released by Koch Vision
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Fans of the herb will want to own. Everyone else should rent, because it's damn funny.

Every year, for the past fifteen years in fact, there has been a competition held in Amsterdam. This is contest of champions in which, from what I can tell, there are no real losers. Why? Because this is the World Cup of marijuana cultivating. This is where, last year, twenty-one different types of highly specialized weed showed up to go head to head and have a party. And, of course, the magazine to cover everything was High Times. They had the decency to go a step further and record everything in...well, I don't know if I'd call it a documentary. Let's just say they got a lot of stuff on film.

Let me put myself in context for this review. I don't use drugs--never have. I know there are many of you scoffing when I say that, but considering how much trouble I've had with my brain chemistry, I've never wanted to muck about with it for fear of doing myself harm. Those around me are convinced that I'm either exactly right in having reached this decision--or that a little bit of brain-restructuring is exactly what I need. Either way, I've never inhaled or exhaled the green stuff, got no problem with anybody who does. And I think that victimless crime is a very, very stupid concept. But I digress.

That having been said, I'm not sure what I expected from this disc. I'm pretty sure, however, I wasn't counting on it to be so damn funny. In fact, it and the people involved with it are so hilarious, I almost doubt of any of it's real. But there is a lot of that aforementioned stuff going on. First you've got the coverage of the Amsterdam rejoicing, then you've got segments of "High Witness News" (personal favorite headline: the Vatican denying that Christ was a stoner), then there's "Cannabis Castaways". This is High Times' idea of a reality show in which six people are put on a houseboat in Amsterdam and told to smoke like maniacs, voting strains of marijuana off the boat as they go. In fact, some of the funniest moments in the entire proceedings are the myriad audition tapes the magazine apparently received from potential "Castaways". There's lots of people in costume, singing, singing badly, and my personal favorite: a gentleman who, to prove his love of the herb, produces a spliff the size of a billy club.

Now what makes me think the whole thing is a staged joke is the fact that "Castaways" are so deadpan funny. Like when they're trying to figure out what "reality show archetypes" they must fill, or when the "pretty one" boggles at the amount of weed they must blow through (no pun intended) in such a short space of time. Then there's also the long, loving shots of the stuff itself--all twenty-one entries are featured in closeup...and I swear to God they all look like dryer lint and green food coloring to me, I don't know. If not for the on location stuff and the bands involved (including Fishbone--Fishbone is always welcome on any DVD, thank you) I'd think somebody got some people together and tried to make a stoner version of Capricorn One.

The majority of other items on the main screen are just shortcuts to different points in the disc, such as how to meet all of the "Castaways". There is also a featurette about High Times founder Hager which is of some interest and also a music jukebox where you can find more songs from the bands, including more Fishbone, which again, is always a good thing.

Personally, I think this disc is funny enough where, grass smoker or not, you'll enjoy at least renting it (from somewhere--not likely Blockbuster, I wouldn't think) and watching it through. The music is decent, the TV parodies are quite amusing and it's laugh out loud funny in most places. Those samplers of the herb who wish they could afford the trip to Amsterdam will probably start cutting back on movie rentals after watching this to afford the journey someday.

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