Time travel films are risky business because at their core many stories are essentially the same fish out of water scenario played out at different periods before or after this exact moment in time. The same could be said about stoner films, only the fish isn’t sure what the water is or why they are suddenly aware of the fact they are in it. Only a select few titles from either genre ever rise to the top of the indie crop, and as far as I know no film has ever combined the two worlds to resounding success. This remains true with the release of Ripped, a half-baked tale of stoner time travel that forgets to be funny.
Comedians Faizon Love and Russell Peters star as Reeves and Harris, two stoner friends who smoke top secret CIA weed in 1986 and wake up thirty years later. The weed in question is supplied by a sexually voracious women who explains the McGuffin of a plot device:
Woman: “This shit was grown in Area 51, where they keep the aliens. You ever heard of G-13?”
Reeves: “No way. No Way. Are you telling me that’s that super secret CIA weed?”
Woman: “This is G-14. Most the CIA can’t even get their hands on this shit yet.”
Harris: “Then how did you get it?”
Woman: “I fucked a guy who knows a guy. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”
…And that is all that is said about it.
When Reeves and Harris awake in 2016 they spend little time freaking out about the fact they have just lost thirty year of their lives. They spend even less time dealing with the fact Harris’ parents are dead, or that everyone in their town has essentially forgotten they ever disappeared. They also are not fascinated with the brave new world around them aside from the legalization of marijuana, which quickly becomes an obsession the film cannot shake. Instead of rebuilding their lives or trying to understand what happened, Reeves and Harris light another joint and continue being completely oblivious to the fact they are now middle-aged men with zero life experience, no money, no jobs, no family that knows they are alive, and no real purpose. They simply exist, and that is not all that interesting to witness.
The one person burdened by Reeves and Harris’ sudden reappearance is Debbie (Alex Meneses), a childhood friend that Harris has had a crush on his entire life. Debbie provides the men with shelter, but like everyone else in the film shows very little interest or concern over the fact two people she hasn’t seen in three decades have suddenly reappeared wearing the same clothes they were last seen in. The film writes this off as being a result of Debbie’s busy schedule, which keeps her away from her teen son and focused on pleasing higher ups, but really it’s just a matter of bad writing. Debbie only exists to give Harris a love interest and to provide an excuse for the protagonists – now full grown men – to pal around with a teenage boy. She’s as one-dimensional as the comedy, but to her credit Meneses does all she can to breathe life into the part.
When money runs low, Reeves and Harris hatch a plan to open a restaurant. The only problem is, no bank is willing to give two men with zero credit history a substantial loan to open a business they don’t know how to operate. This problem finally gives the characters Ripped something to deal with, but it happens more than halfway into the film and at that point your desire to continue spending time in this world has already started wain. Their solution is not so much a clever twist as it is an obvious act of deception, but like everything else in this underdeveloped world there is little to no consequence for any action. Things just happen, and if you’re lucky the characters spend a few fractions of a second reacting before resuming an almost unceasing string of juvenile dick and fart and weed jokes that never pander to the twelve year boy in us all without actually making that inner child laugh. The final gag is the worst of all, unfolding as a desperate last ditch effort to amuse audiences through gross out body humor, and it fails in spectacular fashion.
As I watched Ripped and felt my life slowly slip away I could not help thinking about the numerous people who had to see, read, or hear about this film before it was actually completed. Dozens of people, perhaps more, had to know this movie was something someone wanted to make and not a one of them thought it wise to suggest a second pass on the script might be a good idea. I don’t know if that is because the people in question were asshole who wish to watch the world burn through the distribution of bad art or they simply did not want to hurt a friends’ feeling, but whatever their reasons I hope they cannot sleep at night knowing what mediocrity their silence has unleashed upon the Earth. Not only does Ripped fail to produce a single laugh, but it manages to do so while torpedoing the otherwise hilarious careers of Faizon Love and Russell Peters. Both men are killers in the stand up arena, with Peters being an inarguable global sensation, but here they are reduced to sitcom like caricatures in a movie that feels more like an overlong pilot for a soon to be cancelled Comedy Central series than an instantly forgettable feature-length film.