Film Review: Ripped

A surprising number of laughs and even a tiny bit of warmth almost redeem this otherwise silly stoner comedy.
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Even the best stoner comedies can take the idea of “high concept” too literally and too far. This directorial debut by producer Brad Epstein (About a Boy)—co-writing the film with Billiam Coronel—one-ups even some of the most outlandish ideas found in the Bill and Ted and Hot Tub Time Machine movies, yet still finds something new to offer.

Ripped is essentially a vehicle for standup comics Faizon Love and Russell Peters, playing pot-smoking best friends Reeves and Harris. And that’s about the only thing it has in common with every other stoner comedy.

We meet the duo as teens—played by Kyle Massey and Vandit Bhatt—in 1986, as they visit Reeves’ girlfriend Debbie, trying to convince her father (Carlos Gómez) to let her hang out with them. Quickly shut down, they go looking to score some weed and find a drug dealer (Mary Skaggs) who sells them special “Area 51-grown” marijuana. After smoking it, the guys pass out and wake up to find themselves 30 years older, and now in the year 2016.

Much of the early humor comes from the duo being displaced three decades into the future and trying to fit in with the times and figure out new technology. It doesn’t offer anything particularly clever, basically automated doors and toilets, but that comic angle is soon discarded as the duo try to rev up a scheme to open a restaurant that serves chili laced with (now legalized) marijuana.

This plot also involves Harris renewing his romance with Debbie (Alex Meneses), hoping she’ll help them get a loan to fund the restaurant, and the duo hanging out with her teen son Brad (Bridger Zadina), since he’s more on their wavelength.

As the movie switches gears from the fish-out-of-water shtick, there are a few funny gags like a marijuana dispensary called “Home De-Pot” (same spelling, different pronunciation).

Otherwise, there’s still quite a lot of silliness on display in Ripped, even if it’s not quite as dumb as these stoner comedies tend to be. The writing isn’t great, basically inserting the F-word into every other line of dialogue, but the only reason the film isn’t completely a waste of time is because Peters and Love clearly know their craft and bring more to these characters than we normally might see in this type of movie. This is especially the case with Peters, whose relationship with the older Debbie offers some much-needed romantic warmth we rarely see in this genre.

Despite the time-travel aspect of the plot, it’s never explained why these friends never seem even slightly concerned about losing 30 years of their lives. They don’t try to go back in time to 1986, nor does that ever seem to be an option, making it clear that this “high concept” was never particularly well thought out. Probably the saddest aspect of Ripped is that it ends in such an unforgivably disgusting way, it almost wastes all the good will it has built up.

Ripped is not a good film, yet it’s also a movie that’s difficult to completely hate—mainly because the two leads work harder at being charming and funny than they needed to.

Click here for cast and crew information.