The veteran ad-libbers in “High Road” could teach the younger generation a thing or two about improv comedy.
The film, a straight to video affair heavy on improvised dialogue, features comedy stalwarts like Ed Helms (The “Hangover” films), Rob Riggle (“Role Models”) and Joe Lo Truglio (“I Love You Man.”). But the actual stars of the no-budget show are James Pumphrey and “Saturday Night Live’s” Abby Ellott, two bland but affable leads without the comic chops of the aforementioned trio.
Fitz (Pumphrey) suffers a series of emotional body blows as the film opens. His band has just dissolved before his eyes, his girlfriend may be pregnant and his low-key pot business has drawn the attention of local law enforcement.
Or so this fuzzy-headed drummer thinks.
So Fitz makes a run for it, leaving his slacker life behind and taking a local teen (Dylan O’Brien) along for the ride. Fitz wants to reunite with his long-lost pappy, but having someone ride shotgun is essential in a road picture comedy.
Turns out Fitz is being tailed, but not by the police. The teen’s father (Riggle) and his quasi-cop buddy (Lo Truglio) think the lad is in danger and are desperate to bring him home.
“High Road’s” comic potential sinks when the youngsters command the screen. The story itself is boiler plate road trip, with the mandatory pot gags feeling far from subversive – there’s even an anti-drug story arc in the film’s waning moments. Cheech, suffice to say, would not be pleased.
Helms fares best here as a local TV reporter who thinks he’s the biggest fish in a seriously small pond. Watching Helms flirt with Elliott’s character is a case study in awkward comedy. It’s pathetic, but pitch perfect all the same.
The Blu-ray extras feature a series of short, less than inspired interview snippets with the cast. It would be far more intriguing to see some of the improv segments that didn’t make the final cut. Here’s betting any snippet segments featuring Helms, Riggle or Lo Truglio out-shine the main story line.