The uninspired pothead comedy "The Passion of the Reefer" exhibits plenty of reefer but almost none of the passion. Displaying a wilted cinematic drive, the movie -- previously known as "Reefer Madness 2001" -- follows a pair of L.A. dope dealers riding a steady buzz while dispensing weed among the slackerati.
Dissolute twentysomethings Crackerdust (Brett Moses) and Weaver (Jeff Bennett) casually make their rounds bringing the bud to the people, dealing straight out of Crackerdust's Jeep (in the movie's only clever bit, Weaver sometimes takes a more creative form of transportation).
Weaver eventually meets a cute college student named Lindy (Shawn Jaric) and as their dates increase, visiting local landmarks such as the New Beverly Cinema and CityWalk, he grows reluctant to indulge Crackerdust's ambitions, threatening both the partnership and the friendship.
Looking to improve their profit margin -- and no wonder, they seem to imbibe as much of the ganja as they sell -- Crackerdust explores the possibility of upgrading from their normal cheap merchandise to the "killer green."
This leads the duo on a series of misadventures in drug trafficking that makes up the nominal plot.
Not the wild-and-crazy romp one might expect from this genre, the movie actually plays things surprisingly straight much of the time. And weak as the humor may be, director John Frady does try to mine laughs from the characters rather than relying on gags. Unfortunately, Moses and Bennett are no threat to Cheech and Chong in the legacy of cinematic stoners, and the movie's mellowness becomes a drag.
Several times, Frady attempts to lace the movie with some visual style by replicating the experience of being high, but the results induce more of a snooze than a buzz.
'The Passion of the Reefer'
MPAA rating: Unrated
Times guidelines: Pervasive drug use (obviously), language, sexual references and a stabbing
A Gone Hollywood Pictures release. Director John Frady. Producer Geoffrey Coldwater. Screenplay by Chandler Colfax. Cinematographer John Frady. Editor Tiziana. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.
Exclusively at Laemmle's Fairfax Cinemas, 7907 Beverly Blvd., (323) 655-4010.