Dave Chappelle’s Half Baked is a dopey cult comedy that deserves a place in the stoner movie pantheon, rivaling the likes of Up in Smoke, The Big Lebowski, and Reefer Madness. The film was released in 1998 and featured a diverse collection of the time’s up-and-coming comedians: Dave Chappelle, Jim Breuer, Harland Williams, and Guillermo Diaz. Half Baked’s story and screenplay was written by Chappelle and Neal Brennan, a legendary duo that would later go on to create the monumental Chappelle Show, and Half Baked found a director in Billy Madison’s Tamra Davis. Despite the talent involved, upon release, Half Baked was a disappointment at the box office and with critics. Half Baked’s Dave Chappelle later lamented, “Neal [Brennan] and I lost touch for a while after the release of Half Baked. It was like leaving a crime scene.” However, over time, Half Baked has gained a significant reputation as a cinematic cornerstone in stoner culture.
Half Baked Scenes & Story – What is Half Baked About?
The film Half Baked begins by introducing our main characters: four lifelong stoner friends (Thurgood, Brian, Kenny, and Scarface – played by Chappelle, Breuer, Williams, and Diaz respectively) who currently live together in New York City. One night, this cannabis clique gets superbly stoned, and Kenny – the noble kindergarten teacher – is elected to leave the apartment to secure proper munchies for the remainder of the night. Unfortunately, Kenny’s high stupor leads him to accidentally killing a diabetic police horse with the munchies, and he is arrested.
Thurgood and the ganja gang soon discover half-baked Kenny is in jail and needs $1,000,000 to be bailed out . . . or else brutal prisoners will take advantage of his innocence. At the prison, we meet Thurgood’s love interest – the aptly named Mary Jane Potman – played by The Craft’s Rachel True. Unfortunately for Thurgood, Mary Jane is anything but a fan of marijuana.
The next day at his medical lab custodial job, Thurgood is offered some high-potency weed by an unethical scientist in exchange for completing a small, but important errand: retrieving a pound of cannabis from another area of the lab. After toking on this incredible ganja, Scarface gets the bright idea to steal more of the bud from Thurgood’s workplace, and sell it to raise funds for Kenny’s bail.
The friends eventually grow their pot business enough to attract the attention of local drug lord Samson Simpson – played by none other than the inimitable Clarence Williams III. Simpson extorts them for $20,000 per week, as they are encroaching on his drug territory. The crew’s payments to Simpson interfere with their fund-raising for Kenny, and Thurgood and Mary Jane’s relationship begins to crumble due to her staunch anti-drug beliefs. All hope seems lost for our Half Baked characters.
In an effort to increase their weed earnings and put their worries to rest, Thurgood and Co. decide to rob the medical laboratory. As expected, their hilariously inept antics get them arrested during the botched caper. The police strike a deal with Thurgood: He’ll wear a wire during a meeting with Simpson in exchange for Kenny’s freedom. Following a hilarious scene at Simpson’s lair involving Jerry Garcia hallucinations, crossbows, and a small army of militant beauties, the friends are reunited, and Thurgood quits weed for good – repairing his relationship with Mary Jane.
Half Baked Cast & Characters
Half Baked’s cast is an undeniable reason why it remains revered and relevant to this day. At the time of making Half Baked, Dave Chappelle was just a rising comedian with a few small ventures in Hollywood, but now – he’s a cultural icon! Between Killin’ Them Softly, Chappelle’s Show, and his eventual transition to the sage-like voice of the culture he is today, Dave Chappelle’s stoner movie will continue living on along with his legacy.
The Half Baked film features a bevvy of other rising comedic from the late 90’s as well, including Jim Breur (SNL, Titan A.E.), Harland Williams (RocketMan, Freddy Got Fingered), and Guillermo Diaz (High School High, Freeway). However, it’s the frequent and random cameo appearances that provide viewers with endless comical surprises.
Tommy Chong plays the friendly prisoner – “Squirrel Master”, Willie Nelson portrays an old school pothead, and a half-baked Snoop Dogg hilariously materializes as the “Scavenger Smoker”. In addition, Bob Saget has an unexpectedly dirty, uncredited appearance (he was directing Dirty Work in the same city Half Baked was being filmed), and John Stewart takes an uproarious turn as the “Enhancement Smoker”, claiming weed reveals the paranoid secrets hidden in a $20 bill.
With regards to stoner culture, Steven Wright provides the most important cameo as the half-baked “Guy on the Couch”. While the aforementioned cameos represented common archetypes to most cannabis enthusiasts, Wright’s character as the Guy actually created an original archetype in which stoners everywhere could project their various couchlocked comrades.
Half Baked Movie Production & Release
After working together on the short-lived ABC sitcom Buddies, Dave Chappelle and Jim Breur realized they were both developing stoner-centric projects. With Chappelle and Neil Brennan’s script for Half Baked already completed, Breur jumped on board, and Dave Chappelle’s classic weed movie was on its way!
Where was Half Baked filmed?
Half Baked began filming in Toronto during the summer of 1997. Despite being pitched as a Dave Chappelle stoner movie, Half Baked director Tamra Davis has divulged in recent years that it was a professional, and – surprisingly – sober film production. In a 2018 interview with Yahoo News, Davis commented, “those actors were never stoned [during] the whole thing, but in those days, Dave used to think . . . this would give him carte blanche to smoke weed everywhere”.
Little did the Half Baked comedian know, by 2020 he’d be receiving $20 million checks from Netflix, and he’d be able to do just about anything he wanted!
What year did Half Baked come out?
Half Baked hit movie theaters across the nation on January 16th, 1998. The weekend it was released, the stoner film was competing in the box office against juggernauts like Titanic, Good Will Hunting, Scream 2, and Tomorrow Never Dies.
What is Half Baked rated?
Half Baked is rated R for pervasive drug content, language, nudity and sexual materials. As expected as a stoner movie, Half Baked features frequent use of and references to marijuana, in addition to containing frequent profanity and brief female nudity.
Half Baked Critical Reception & Box Office
Half Baked was critically condemned upon release, with film critics picking apart practically every aspect of the movie. The weight of the failure mostly fell on Chappelle’s shoulders, with a 1998 Half Baked movie review declaring, “alleged comedian Dave Chappelle deserves most of the blame”.
The Dave Chappelle weed movie slumped at the box office as well, with it debuting at #6 at the box office, trailing behind legitimate smash hits like Titanic and Good Will Hunting. Still, by the end of its run it was able to earn back more than twice its budget. Even with the comedian’s commercial and critical struggles with Half Baked, he was able to bounce back as an actor, stand-up, and eventually a showrunner on Comedy Central’s wildly successful Chappelle’s Show.
Half Baked Movie Review
Half Baked is a riotous Dave Chappelle stoner movie, and I’ll always reflect fondly upon it. Its release coincided with the early days of my friend group’s budding love for weed and cannabis culture. We enjoyed regular viewings of the film while getting as stoned as possible on whatever terrible, seed-laden brick weed we could acquire. Half Baked was so ingrained in our rural stoner cell that I would always signal my initial ‘elevation’ with a Half Baked quote, saying, “What day is it, man?” in my best Jim Breuer impression.
Despite the critical thrashing the film received upon release, Half Baked has stood the test of time. Whether by its own, stoned merits or due to Dave Chappelle’s continued relevance, Half Baked is an essential element of cannabis culture on the silver screen, as displayed by its position on stoner cinema lists by Complex, Rotten Tomatoes, EW, and more.
Whether you’ve seen it or not, I strongly suggest grabbing your version of Billy Bong Thorton or Wesley Pipes and get fully baked while watching Half Baked. Just make sure to gather your munchies before the shenanigans begin!
Half Baked Movie Trivia & FAQ’s:
Who was the rapper in Half Baked?
In addition to playing the lead character, Dave Chappelle is also in Half Baked as the hilarious cannabis-crazed rapper, Sir Smoke-a-Lot.
What was the horse’s name in Half Baked?
In the film Half Baked, the doomed police horse’s name is Buttercup, but the Kenny character mistakes its name for “Butterstuff” and “Butternuts”.
Who killed the horse in Half Baked?
In the movie Half Baked, the story’s conflict kicks off when Kenny, portrayed by comedian Harland Williams, accidentally kills a diabetic police horse by feeding it the food he purchased on a munchie run.
Is Half Baked on Netflix?
No, you cannot currently watch Half Baked on Netflix.
Is Half Baked on Amazon Prime?
No, you cannot currently stream Half Baked with an Amazon Prime Video subscription. However, it’s included with an additional AMC+ subscription on the platform, but the Half Baked film seems to be leaving that service shortly.
Is Half Baked on any streaming service?
If it’s not on Netflix and it’s not on Amazon Prime, you must be asking: “Well where can I watch Half Baked?”. Unfortunately, getting a hold of the Half Baked movie on a streaming service is currently a bit difficult. While it’s not a mainstay on the most popular services, you can rent and stream Half Baked from Vudu, iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play for less than $5.
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