On Monday night, the scent of solidarity and good vibes permeated throughout the Bruin Theater in Westwood, where hundreds of cannabis enthusiasts, activists and professionals gathered to watch DJ Pooh’s latest creation, Grow House.
Sitting among so many like-minded individuals, I must admit that I felt honored to be a part of the event.
Four rows back from my seat, Snoop Dogg was taking pictures with a long line of fans who just wanted a few seconds to meet the legend. He didn’t have to, but if you know anything about Mr. Broadus, it’s that he never turns down an opportunity to give his fans what they want.
And sitting next to me was Lorraine, a woman who once dated Dean Martin when she was 16. A native of Los Angeles, she had some pretty amazing stories to tell. Her grandson was in the movie, and the excitement on her face spoke volumes about the love she had for this man. She also handed me this during the opening credits…
Jeff Sessions says good people don’t smoke marijuana. But he never met Snoop Dogg, or Miss Lorraine, or any of the other beautiful, kind-hearted people that were in attendance at the premier of Grow House.
But this isn’t about Jeff Sessions or prohibitionists or anything political. This is simply about a good time and some good laughs—things that I think a lot of us could use these days.
DJ Pooh was an integral part of the ’90s hip hop scene, but that sometimes gets overshadowed by the movie Friday, which Pooh co-wrote.
Friday is, without a doubt, a classic. To some, it’s the apex of stoner movies.
Although I never really thought of Friday as a “stoner movie,” and Faizon Love agrees, noting that it’s about much more than weed. It’s about family, it’s about cultural identity, it’s about recognizing a “slice of life” that, at the time, most white audiences knew nothing about.
Love played the memorable role of Big Worm in Friday and played an equally memorable role as Rollin’ Reg in Grow House.
There truly is something very special about Friday, and that cannot be denied. That being said, I do hope folks don’t try to compare that movie with Grow House, as these are two totally different animals.
While I don’t think it’s accurate to classify Friday as a stoner movie, it is accurate to classify Grow House as one. And that’s not a bad thing.
The truth is, I’ve always loved stoner movies. Even before my first dealer sold me my first dime bag in 1987. And the reason is simple: They’re just fucking funny.
From the classic Cheech and Chong flicks to the Harold and Kumar franchise, stoner movies do this wonderful job transporting you to a world where, for about 90 minutes or so, you’re not worrying about bills or work or family drama.
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I would go so far as to say that there’s almost a meditative quality about a good stoner movie. And that’s exactly what Grow House is.
It’s all About the Talent
DJ Pooh, who comes off as a very soft-spoken and somewhat serious individual, has a gift for making people laugh. We saw it in all the Friday movies, we saw it in 3 Strikes and we see it again in Grow House.
That being said, part of what makes Pooh’s movies work is the talent he recruits. And that really stands out in Grow House.
DeRay Davis and Lil Duval, who play Pat and Darius, have amazing chemistry. Their timing is impeccable, and the quality of this comedic duo could easily stand up to the likes of Laurel and Hardy or Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.
It’s actually so natural, I had to ask Lil Duval if that was something the two worked on for the movie or if it was something that just happened organically. It was clearly the latter, but this is the result of the two spending so much time on the road together, working the stand-up circuit.
As a side note, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Lil Duval’s stand-up routine, the Stalker’s Anthem.
Pooh also enlisted Lin Shaye to play the crazy neighbor, Mrs. Gilliam. Turns out, he had her in mind for the part to begin with, and she happily accepted the role.
While Shaye’s name might not be as ubiquitous as Snoop Dogg, her role in Grow House is definitely one of the stand-out roles in the movie. Shaye has a knack for playing these insane, but oddly lovable characters. She did this successfully as Magda in There’s Something about Mary, and she did it again in Grow House.
Another stand-out role was that of Terri, played by Raquel Lee.
Some may remember Lee from her early days as a child actor in the Nickelodeon series, The Amanda Show, but I first saw her playing the role of Charmagne in the Kevin Hart series, Real Husbands of Hollywood.
Raquel Lee has a very unique comedic gift. She has this ability to take her characters just beyond that “over-the-top” mark, but not too far above it. It’s a point where the character gets so close to becoming a caricature, but holds back just enough so that it’s believable.
This is exactly what she pulled off in Grow House, making that “crazy girlfriend” character just crazy enough to be convincing, but leaving a little room for the audience to think that a deeper level of psychosis could appear at any minute.
Martin Starr, who plays Conspiracy Chris, was also the perfect choice for this character. I’m not sure if Pooh had him in mind when he wrote the part, but I can’t imagine anyone else playing it.
Although I will always remember him as Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks, he’s really become a sort of “go-to” for the role of a lovable stoner. I almost think he offers a certain level of “stoner movie” credibility at this point.
A Classic Stoner Movie
Grow House definitely hits all the right buttons to be considered a solid stoner movie. It’s funny, it’s light-hearted and it invites you into a world that cannabis enthusiasts can really appreciate.
But like all classic stoner movies, you don’t actually have to be high to enjoy it. That’s the difference between making a movie based on cannabis use and a movie based on a story that involves cannabis, as Big Worm eloquently reminded me on Monday afternoon during a press event.
Of course, if you plan on enjoying the herb while watching Grow House, Abracadabra is the strain of choice.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for an intellectually-stimulating, high-brow comedy, this is not it. But if you just want to laugh your ass off and have a good time, you won’t go wrong with Grow House.