RIPPED: The Tale of Two Time Traveling Pot Heads & Their Chilli Pot
The unoriginal, uninspired premise of stoner comedy Ripped is partially saved by the dedication of the two lead actors.
I imagine that the premise of Ripped was pitched to executives as a time travel stoner movie that’s Hot Tub Time Machine meets the Harold and Kumar movie franchise. Ripped was written by Billiam Coronel and Brad Epstein, who also directed the piece in his directorial debut, moving up from a successful career in as a producer (About a Boy).
When the story begins, we meet two teenage best friends, Reeves (Faizon Love, but at first we meet a young version portrayed by Kyle Massey) and Harris (Russell Peters, young version portrayed by Vandit Bhatt). They’re on their way to a concert sans Harris’ girlfriend, Debbie (Alex Meneses) due to an unfortunate meeting with her father, Mr. Sanchez (Carlos Gómez) but they never make it to the concert.
Instead, while picking up pot in between meeting Mr. Sanchez and going to the show, they meet their new pot dealer, Joe (Mary Skaggs) and in exchange for a sexual favor, she trades some CIA grown marijuana with the boys. Their van gets stuck in a ditch, they smoke their CIA pot and wake up thirty years later, older, fatter and dumber.
There’s always something slightly amusing in watching stories about people from the past suddenly zapped into the present, missing out on the evolution of how things became as they are now – and their reactions to it. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this idea, and the writers took advantage of some of these opportunities, like when Reeves and Harris mistake cell phones for calculators and think they mistakenly walked into a math convention. When they discover Starbucks they think Mr. Sanchez stole their business idea to sell coffee around the country on street corners.
Reeves and Harris end up on Debbie’s doorstep and manipulate their way back into her life. Harris does most of the manipulating while Reeves can’t keep his eyes off her chest. Only in a male’s fantasy mind would a single woman with an impressionable teenage son and career allow herself to be so easily manipulated by two losers from her past, who suddenly show up out of the blue with an outrageous and unbelievable story about where they’ve been for the last thirty years. Everything about the way Debbie’s character was written was unrealistic and underwhelming in every imaginable way.
Romanticizing the Idea of Rekindling Old Flames
The love story that attempts to pick up between a mentally and emotionally stunted man-child and the woman that Debbie has grown up to be is unconvincing on every level. There’s no chemistry to speak of between the two characters. It felt awkward and inauthentic to watch those scenes.
Debbie’s teenage son, Brad (Bridger Zadina) appears to be the only character in the present day who is on the same mental wavelength as Harris and Reeves. That adds to what makes it so hard to believe that Debbie would even consider rekindling a romance with Harris at this point in her life.
With their street corner coffee idea dashed and their new knowledge of marijuana being legalized, they decide to open a marijuana infused chilli restaurant called The Chilli Pot. All the puns used throughout the movie are too on the nose and obvious, taking the comedic element out of it when it’s the shtick they seem to be leaning on most heavily.
Throughout the rest of the movie, the plot centers around their attempts to get a loan for The Chilli Pot so they can embark on their business venture. Bank after bank laughs them out or turns them down which leads to Harris again manipulating Debbie to help him get what he wants. After a few more trial and errors they appear to have found success, when Joe shows up with a new strain of CIA grown marijuana.
The Why’s and Why Not’s
There are a lot of unanswered questions that the writers didn’t even attempt to touch, like why don’t these guys ever try to go back to 1986 after seeing the future? After finding out their parents are dead (Harris) and left town (Reeves), why don’t they seek out other family members to try to connect with family or seek out anyone other than Debbie that they knew in their past? If they knew they had been presumed dead and the whole town thought they were dead, wouldn’t there be something in the news about their sudden reappearance?
There are tiny scraps of comedic gold thrown at the audience throughout the film, but most of what is supposed to be funny is just lame. The one thing that makes Ripped enjoyable and justifies viewers being able to continue watching it is the cast. The actors are talented and all bring their own flavor that spices up a tired premise. With a minority-led cast who never missed a beat, I found myself laughing out loud in between eye rolls and yawns.
The technical scopes of the film are professional quality with a few minor sound issues barely noticeable. The wigs on Reeves character early on are a HMU malfunction that the wardrobe department should be aware of. Not only did it look obviously fake and bad but it was terribly distracting. Other than that, Ripped looks and sounds on par with every other Hollywood low budget comedy film but unfortunately it’s the writing and lack of originality in concept that doesn’t hold up to it’s predecessors in the genre.
Any originality brought to the piece must have come from some improvisation as the story isn’t particularly witty or clever overall. The concept is unoriginal and uninspired but Ripped does have several laugh out loud moments brought on by a talented cast.
Simply taking it for what it is at face value, another stupid stoner comedy – it’s easy to believe the writers were really high when they thought that this was a stellar concept to turn into a script and feature film.
Do you enjoy stoner flicks? If so, what’s your favorite stoner movie?
Ripped is available now on VOD.
“The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.” Read the Letter of Solidarity here. Make a donation to the legal fund here.