Monday, December 15, 2008
Feel A Little Higher With Humboldt County (2008)
Humboldt County, written and directed by newcomers Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs is NOT a stoner movie. I repeat: if you were expecting another Pineapple Express you will be disappointed, but then enlightened if you decide to stay.
If anything Humboldt County, about a nearly failed med student named Peter (played with poignant precision by Jeremy Strong) who manages, through sleeping with a stranger (Fairuza Balk!), finds himself stuck in California’s lost coast, is like Garden State but Grodsky and Jacobs manage to freshen up familiar plot devices, remove the clutter and keep things spontaneous and reflective without all the gimmicks.
Peter was always told by his father to never “sit idly, there is too much life to live,” but it isn’t long before the pot gets to his head. Or maybe it’s life telling him to slow down for once and admire his surroundings. His stay with a former UCLA physics professor, Jack (an amazing Brad Dourif), and his family start to give Peter a bit of perspective on things he may have been too scared to think about due to his tyrannical father.
Humboldt County wafts and bubbles along at a meditative pace with moments that never overstay their welcome. My only complaint is an unnecessary death at the end. The film works well, if not better without it, because Peter, Jack, his wife Rosie (played delicately by Frances Conroy) and adopted son Max (Chris Messina) all endure deeper more metaphysical pains from their past and present. Smoking doesn’t alleviate these scars, but it allows for a moment to reflect. Something we all need.
In this modern world we all hope for salvation and in Humboldt County you may just find it.
Humboldt County on IMDB
Directors Darren Grodsky & Danny Jacobs' production blog