sundance selection “newlyweeds” puts an herbal spin on the romcom

January 28, 2013

Unlike other stoner comedies like Half Baked and Pineapple Express, Sundance selection Newlyweeds, takes another road — by making a stoner romcom. It comes as a debut feature for writer-director Shaka King, and what’s (not?) so surprising, The stoner rom-com works really well.

By: Fariha Roisin, Film Contributor

Lyle (Amari Cheatom) and Nina (Trae Harris) spend much of their lives together in their Brooklyn apartment, secluded in their makeshift sanctuary smoking weed and getting high. They spout philosophical hypothesis and fondly recount their childhoods, drifting in a weed filled wonderland where life is sacred and cherished. Nina misses travelling and laments their inability to do so, Lyle agrees that it might be exciting if they were to go somewhere, “Like the Galapagos!” With that sudden incantation, Nina is spiralled into motion, her life before the Galapagos dream was languid and lacking in motivation, now suddenly she has something to work towards, and thus begin their journeys.

Much of the conflict of the film arises in Lyle’s seemingly disinterest in anything other than smoking weed. As he daydreams about coming home from his abhorrent work (he works as a repo man for a seedy rent-to-own company) to a glorious fat reefer, Nina works as a museum guide where her free-spirited and excitable nature thrives. She is determined to go to the Galapagos and works extra shifts to make as much cash as she can. There, she also meets a curator who is drawn to her enthusiasm and they form a friendship that ends up driving Lyle to jealousy, and also a black-weed-resembling-hole. In a mere few days he starts experimenting with vaporizers and even dabbles in alcohol, a drug he’d never taken a liking to before. But at $1.25 a pop, he surmises, why wouldn’t you get buzzed?

As the film begins to focus on the personal pitfalls of the two leads, what cements the film and makes it truly enjoyable to watch is the chemistry between Cheatom and Harris. Despite having a tentative relationship, they do love each other and that is their bond. But let’s not be coy, weed is definitely the other thing that holds them together. This dynamic and complex relationship translates totally and the audience can’t help but want them to be happy forever, stoned and all.

This story is truly magnetic. The jokes are hilarious and there are some considerable laugh out loud moments that are hinged on King’s witty dialogue (a definite contrast to its other weed counterparts where all the jokes are about bongs and getting high). Plus, the hilarious acting by Cheatom whose characterisation of Lyle provides endless hilarity is a serious reason to catch this. Although, both actors are charismatic and utterly charming. Regardless, whether you smoke weed, or not, this comedy will be relatable in the sometimes humorous struggles we have with self, love and life.

legalize the love or does this make you “juana” leave the theater?