Stoner Flicks: Rolling Kansas

Stoner Flicks: Rolling Kansas

Just to get this out of the way, the best part of Rolling Kansas has nothing to do with the film’s main characters, the plot, how the film was shot or the script. Instead, Rip Torn hitching a ride with a car full of desperate twenty somethings, revealing he was a weed grower/horticulturalist for the government and gay as all out doors trumps just about everything else in the hour and twenty seven minute feature.

Yeah, things are that grim.

Ranking as the first writing and directing effort from Thomas Haden Church, who everyone should be familiar with as a result of portraying a dimwitted mechanic on Wings, things don’t seem to be able to go down hill for the guy. At least he’s got that working in his favor. But after staring in such a popular show and accruing enough industry cache to get a shot at directing a feature like this, there’s almost no way the guy’s getting another shot.

Rolling Kansas, despite being billed as a stoner road movie, doesn’t really have too much to do with getting high. Instead, the film focuses on a mythical pot forest – that’s where Torn’s character came in. One would expect that there’d be a bit of puff, puff, give in the car, though. What else are road movies good for?

Quick, name a road movie. Quick, name one where the characters riding down the freeway didn’t get wasted a lot. Right.

Apart from the poorly marketed film just being a downer, after about the first twenty minutes, the movie’s exposition’s enough to make just about anyone turn it off and wait for a Dave Chappell marathon on Comedy Central.

But here’s a quick summation of the coulda-been decent movie. Rolling Kansas begins with foggy memories of hippy kids being allowed to run around in a weed field as their parents pose for a picture. Fast forward twenty whatever years, the kids are in college or grown up. The parents, though, are nowhere to be found.

Each kid’s engaged with some sort of normal life trajectory, with the oldest, Dick, being married and running a failing t-shirt business. His wife picks up and leaves and the bills are piling up at the store. The only way out of the situation seems to be to hunt down the magical forest his parents took him to as a little kid. Good start, right? Yeah, the rest is pretty lame.