High School

High School

Matt Bush, Adrien Brody, and Sean Marquette star in Anchor Bay Films' High School. Photo Credit: Neil Jacobs. Property of Anchor Bay Films

High School (2010/2012)

Opened: 06/01/2012 Limited

Theaters (200+)06/01/2012
AMC Loews Meth...06/01/2012 - 06/07/20127 days
AMC Empire 2506/01/2012 - 06/07/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Facebook

Genre: Comedy

Rated: R for for pervasive drugs and language, crude and sexual content, some nudity - all involving teens.


The day after soon-to-be valedictorian Henry Burke (Matt Bush) takes a hit of the chronic for the first time, his school principal (Michael Chiklis) institutes a zero tolerance drug policy and administers a mandatory drug test for all students. Henry has two options: fail and lose his college scholarship, or team up with his stoner friend Breaux (Sean Marquette) to beat the system. They steal a high powered ganja from law student-turned-drug-dealer Psycho Ed (Adrien Brody) and spike the school's bake sale brownies, getting the whole school--faculty included--completely stoned out of their minds. But with the student body getting higher and higher with every brownie, and a pissed-off Psycho Ed on their tails for stealing his stash, they must find a way to keep their half-baked plan from going up in smoke.

Directed by John Stalberg, Jr., with story by John Stalberg, Jr. and Eric Linthorst, and screenplay by Eric Linthorst and John Stalberg, Jr. & Stephen Susco, the cast of HIGH SCHOOL also includes Colin Hanks (Orange County, AMC's "Mad Men"), Adhir Kalyan (CBS' "Rules of Engagement") and Yeardley Smith (Fox's "The Simpsons").

Director's Statement with John Stalberg, Jr.


How does someone get inspired to make a movie like High School? It certainly doesn't hurt to go to high school in Los Angeles, California followed up by college in Boulder, Colorado -- both bright stars in the universe of marijuana. Of all the characters I encountered attending school in Boulder; one became the inspiration for the movie's Psycho Ed character, unforgettably played by Adrien Brody.


The inspiration for the character of Psycho Ed showed up at a friend of a friend's barbecue one day, holding a glass jar of crystalline powder protectively in his hands. Lit by the overhead red bulb, he announced to all the shady characters present that the jar contained the pure THC crystals reaped from an entire harvest of his scientifically home-grown chronic.

He proceeded to pour it into the host's hookah pipe (all houses in Boulder come with hookah pipes--it's a city ordinance) for everyone to try. Somehow I was expected to go first. I had an intramural basketball league game later that evening, but there this wiry dude was, staring at me with his red beady eyes, sadistically egging me on. There was no escape.

The next thing I knew, people's faces were turning green. What time was it? Where was I? Who were all these long-haired guys wearing burlap sacks and Moroccan caftans staring at me? I checked my watch and then it hit me, "Wait. Today is Thursday, right?" I asked. The shady characters shrugged. They were oblivious to those sorts of details.

Then the realization hit me with both barrels--we had fifteen minutes before me and my friends were due on the basketball court for our intramural league game! We'd never make it. And I had to round up the team... where were they? Who were they? And why was I sitting on Tupperware containers filled with freshly harvested marijuana?

My power forward, Wysong, sounded drunk when I called him, but he agreed to meet us at the court. Doug and Ziegler were at the barbecue with me, weren't they? Yes, there they were! Catatonic on a nearby Salvation Army couch, but alive. They had also been victims of Psycho Ed.

That made four players including me, but I was still one man shy of the minimum required to properly play the sport of basketball. I caught the eye of a kid I didn't know who was visiting from New York. He was in bad shape. "Can you play basketball?" I asked him. He stared at me for what seemed like an hour. Finally, through parched lips and dried mouth he crackled out, "Basketball? No dude... I can play lacrosse though." I started tripping out on how swollen and bloodshot his eyes were, but there was just no time for that kind of analysis now. We were due on the hardwood.

Doug and Ziegler shuffled out after us. As we split, I muttered some excuse why we were leaving to the beady-eyed weed-sadist who had done this to us. He smiled goodbye, revealing a prominent gold tooth.

We arrived at the basketball court with no time to spare. I somehow managed to check in our team, and then I saw our opponents. Old guys. Then the recognition flooded into my brain during warm-ups, just as my bug-eyed Humanities professor, Jim Tasse, pump-faked his teammate (my albino Archaeology professor Mr. Gould) out of his tight shorts and buried a crazed, three-point jumper in the back of the net... we were about to play the faculty! Apparently they'd assembled an intramural squad to compete this year. What on Earth was going to happen? Disaster was averted as we proceeded to get our asses handed to us by the duck-tailed baby boomers.

The story of this game, including all the cheap elbows, dirty play and the green New Yorker's half-court, buzzer-beating miracle shot were the seeds of the story "Intramural," which ultimately became the essence of the movie High School.


I developed "Intramural" into a script for High School, spinning off the central character of Psycho Ed into his own story, but I was never satisfied with it until I met a surfer named Travis Breaux from San Diego. I pictured a high school character with that name... and I instantly saw the whole movie. After that, I sat down and banged out the new script in a month.

The lead character would be a skateboarder named Travis Breaux. The other lead would be the polar opposite... the valedictorian Henry Burke. They would be childhood friends who grew apart as they entered high school. The awkward tension of fading childhood relationships passing by the same high school hallways day after day intrigued me and I was familiar with it. It felt like an interesting dynamic between the two leads of the film.

I sent the script off to my producing partner, Stephen Susco, who was in Mexico at the time. He sat at the bar with his laptop and a pitcher of margarita and reworked the script. He punted it back to me and I reworked his pass of the script. We repeated this a few times until the script felt right. Two weeks later, we had a finished script that our agents sent around town.

We heard that Warren Zide liked our script, so we met with him to discuss the project. A couple of months later we were in production an hour north of Detroit on an abandoned, seventy-five million dollar, state-of-the-art high school campus. (Because of the local economic depression, the school board of this town didn't have the funds to operate the school, so we rented it from them and moved all of our equipment in).


We turned that abandoned school into our own, fully functioning movie studio. I rewrote scenes while we were shooting to take advantage of the entire space...it truly was an amazing building to capture on film.

Before the cameras started rolling, I took a moment and looked around at my camera crew, helmed by Mitchell Amundsen, and some of the faces of my cast--Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks, and the others. I realized just how lucky I was to be surrounded by all this talent and there was no way I was going to waste this opportunity.

I knew that the only thing that could prevent us from making something special with this movie was the insecurity to admit to each other that, as a team, we were going to try to make something great and if we didn't, we wouldn't be embarrassed to admit to one another that we'd gone for it.

Once I put it all out on the table, everyone jumped on board and we rolled the cameras and we tried to make the best movie we could together. The honest effort seemed to bring out the best in everyone and I was very happy from beginning to end.