Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (2013)
Directed by Duane Journey
Obviously, the first thing that grabs you about this movie is the clever title it carries (much improved over the original working title Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel & the 420 Witch). Of course, as we all know, in the classic Grimm Brothers fairy tale Hansel and Gretel nearly did get their asses baked in the witch's oven. However, in this modern adaptation of the tale, "baked" takes on a whole new meaning.
Brought to you by a producer of The Twilight Saga, Hansel & Gretel Get Baked is horror meets stoner comedy in a humorous blend of action and gore that will get a tickle out of even the orneriest of witches. The title and the introductory scene featuring Cary Elwes as an electric company employee (looking more like memorable NBA player Kurt Rambis) lead one to believe they are in for a goofy, flippant film. However, at about 15 minutes into the movie, things get pretty serious. In fact, for folks who are looking for a lot of stoner humor, this might not be the way to go. Yes, Hansel & Gretel Get Baked is based on a pot-dealing little old lady (who actually is in Pasadena), but the stoner humor kind of ends after the film gets rolling.
The story follows Hansel and Gretel as modern day siblings living in California. Hansel is straight-laced and into photography, Gretel is a stoner. And she and her stoner boyfriend, Ashton, discover a particularly impressive strain of weed called Black Forest sold by a mysterious old woman named Agnes. And when Ashton ventures to Pasadena to score some Black Forest, he meets said old woman (Lara Flynn Boyle in some impressive old age makeup that somehow makes her look like Leprechaun's grandmother), and then, well... bad things start to happen.
Thankfully the lovely Boyle is not buried under the old woman makeup for long, and when she emerges and hits her stride, the film really takes off. Boyle plays the witch in a very unique fashion. The aloof, humorous behavior she uses to cover up her obsession and the delivery Boyle uses in the role make her come across as a character reminiscent of Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight. She's full of dry one-liners that allude to either her pot dealing, her treatment of her victims or the original fairy tale as an inside joke with the audience.
The movie contains some pretty boss F/X work that you wouldn't expect from this film as it begins in such a goofy manner. Overall the story is effective although it does get a bit silly at times, such as when Agnes finds herself in something of a turf war with the Latino drug dealers in the neighborhood. However, the inclusion of the Latino gang did introduce the character of Bianca, played by the gorgeous Bianca Saad, who seriously steamed up the picture.
Mixed in amongst the plentiful bloody scenes are some hokey effects, but the work is mostly impressive. One of the strongest aspects of Hansel & Gretel Get Baked is the casting. They just slotted the perfect players for each role. From the angelic looking Molly Quinn playing Gretel, who looks like she's right out of the pages of a Grimm Brothers story, to Michael Welch (best known as Bella's safe, good guy friend Mike Newton in Twilight) as the do-gooding Hansel to Boyle as Agnes. She could not have played this role better. Every member of the main cast is well placed.
Hansel & Gretel Get Baked is fun whether you're a big fan of stoner comedy or not. There's a ton of action, nice effects, witches, zombies, cannibalism and a badass demonic Doberman. You'll dig Elwes' cameo to start the film and enjoy the tons of witticisms throughout. This movie is much smarter than it initially appears with an intelligent script and a cast that makes the most of it. Outside of the bloody F/X work, there's nothing that's going to scare you or give you the creeps, but we're dealing with an evil witch here so of course it's horror. Aside from some hokey moments here and there, the film works well and is definitely worth checking out. Hell, it's 4:20 somewhere!
3 1/2 out of 5