Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Where There's Smoke

By Susan Ellis

JANUARY 20, 1998:  In some ways, Half Baked reads like a recipe for disaster. This comedy devoted to marijuana is being produced by the person who brought you Adam Sandler’s golfing flop Happy Gilmore and is being directed by the person who helmed CB4, the site of comedian Chris Rock’s near-death experience.

That aside, Half Baked does have some things going for it – not the least of which is a built-in audience consisting of the legions of America’s stoners. But also, it’s got Dave Chappelle, the young comedian who, playing a young comedian, proved to be a scene stealer in the remake of The Nutty Professor. Plus, there are Saturday Night Live cast member Jim Breuer (aka Goat Boy) making his motion-picture debut as a Deadhead, and the film’s series of cameos, including Jon Stewart as “the Enhancement Smoker” and Willie Nelson as “the You Shoulda Been There Smoker.”

In a recent interview with Breuer and Chappelle, Breuer admitted that he’s not too worried about embarrassing himself in Half Baked (he’s got the show to fall back on, after all). In fact, he says he found making the movie so swell that he claims things can only go downhill from here. “It’s like I just dated Miss

America – my first date,” he says. “Now where do I go?” But for Chappelle, who co-wrote the movie with Neal Brennan, things are just getting started. Even before the film’s release, Chappelle has been garnering interest as a writer and is now working on his next screenplay. What is it about? “Oh, that’s a surprise,” he says. “But it should be equally, if not more, inflammatory.”


Tell me about the movie.

Jim Breuer: What do you want to know about it?

What is it about?

J.B.: Dave, do you care to elaborate?

Dave Chappelle: It’s about marijuana, pretty much. It’s a movie about four friends who like to indulge in their favorite illegal substance, which is marijuana. One of them gets in a lot of trouble.

J.B.: By accident.

D.C.: So they decide, to get him out of trouble, they’re going to sell pot that they steal from a laboratory (they’re studying it for medicinal purposes) to raise his bail. That’s the movie. That’s the very short of it.

J.B.: That’s how everything gets kick-started.


Counter-clockwise from bottom left: Dave Chapelle, Jim Breuer, Harland Williams, Guillermo Diaz of Half Baked.
Where did the idea for the movie come from?

D.C.: In New York City, they have services where people deliver marijuana like Domino’s. You look at guys like that, who are going pretty much into everyone’s apartment – they go to peoples’ apartments in Harlem, peoples’ apartments on Park Avenue. These are the guys who know the subculture like the back of their hands. … So from that idea, that spawned into a movie.

Plus, you have to think that more people smoke marijuana now than ever. So it’s fertile ground for comedy. It’s something that a lot of people can relate to; whether they smoke it or not, they know somebody who does.

How long did it take to write the movie?

D.C.: Three nights and 40 arguments. Me and my writing partner Neal Brennan, we talked about it forever and then ended up writing it in three nights.

Did you have to do any kind of research?

D.C.: Well, yeah, sure (laughs).

J.B.: Actually, I did honest research. I rented all these Deadhead tapes because I wanted to do a particular character. I just couldn’t pinpoint what I wanted to do. There’s this one guy I saw at a Dead concert who was just the happiest- go-lucky guy, had a little feather in his ear and he just had a smile from ear to ear. Guards were yelling at him, [but] he just didn’t care as long as he was there listening to music and having a good time. That’s all that counted in this guy’s world. I thought he was hilarious.

As far as the movie goes, were you looking for a Cheech and Chong thing?

D.C.: Have you ever seen or heard of a movie called Trainspotting? [It’s] like a guide to this guy’s world who is a heroin addict, which has to be a drama. Heroin, everything around it just seems dark and shady. On the other hand, pot is just a sillier kind of thing.

J.B.: You think giggling and you think eating.

D.C.: You think of pot and a million jokes come to mind if you’re a comedian. It was just something that let you do all those crazy jokes. I’ve never seen a Cheech and Chong movie.

Tell me about making the movie.

D.C.: It was a lot of hard work. We would work 15-hour days. We would get the shot list in the morning and every day we would be like, “This is impossible.” And every day we’d do the impossible. But it was good. It had a good crew and cast. Where that could have been like a very tense, rough situation, it was fun to be there 15 hours a day. Whether the camera was running or not, we were always laughing, we were always joking.

You have a lot of cameos in the movie; tell me how you convinced them to appear.

D.C.: It wasn’t hard. I just asked them.

Is there anybody you asked who refused?

D.C.: Harrison Ford.

For real?

D.C.: Yeah, for real.

And did he give you a reason?

D.C.: No (laughs).


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