Kid Cannabis (2014)
Directed by John Stockwell
When Idaho resident Nate Norman, an 18 year old high school drop out and part-time pizza delivery guy, hears about the finest marijuana available in Canada, he and his buddy Topher set up a drugs empire smuggling the potent pot across the woodland border.
Based on the true story of Nathan Norman and his cohorts, KID CANNABIS is a comedy drama about a bunch of teenagers who begin to make more money than they could have imagined in a short space of time and how their epic rise came with a sudden, dramatic fall.
The opening of the movie, narrated by the character of Nate Norman (Jonathan Daniel Brown), gives the appearance that KID CANNABIS is one of those bog-standard teen comedies, a la American Pie. However, it soon changes with an actual interesting plot about how a young man, struggling for cash with a single mother who works three jobs so she can feed her kids, wants to make a better life himself by delving into a businesss that he has a passion for. The most fascinating bit about the movie is meeting the family who grow the pot and how Nate and Topher smuggle it across the border. Roping Nate’s childhood friends into the business seems a recipe for disaster but it works remarkably well…in the beginning. The only downfall comes when the young guys run away with themselves with their new found wealth and become targets of teen rival smuggler, Brendan Butler.
Jonathan Daniel Brown plays the character of Nate and is instantly likable. Working his job as a pizza delivery boy, you can tell there’s not much hope for the kid, but once he hears and reads about the premium quality B.C. bud, he knows that he’d be stupid not to attempt to smuggle it into the U.S. As the film draws on, his greed turns him into someone unrecognisable as he favours harder drugs and alienates his ’employee’ friends. Kenny Wormald stars as Topher, Nate’s friend, originally from Boston but settled in Idaho. Initially being led to believe he’d be a partner in the business, Topher finds himself as the lower rank of lead runner instead and is disgruntled by the money he’s given compared with the money he knows Nate must be making. Big name actor Ron Perlman stars as Israeli mobster, Barry Lerner, who financially backs Nate’s enterprise, whilst John C. McGinley plays John Grefard, the chilled out pot farmer in Canada who supplies Nate with the premium bud. Together, along with the supporting cast, they provide a solid, entertaining performance, providing the drama and injecting it with humour from the script when needed.
Whilst some parts of the movie comes of as a bit of a joke due to the comedy aspect of the movie, the essence and enormity of what the teenager achieved still manages to hit home. The immature way in which some of the movie is depicted mimics the immaturity of those involved in Nate’s smuggling business, including the man himself. The film feels a little rushed in the latter half, in which Nate’s rise and penchant for cocaine and guns suddenly arrives rather than revealed gradually over time, but due to the running time of the film, this is to be expected.
A surprising, interesting and entertaining watch. If drug movies, such as Blow, float your boat, then Kid Cannabis is worth checking out.