Homegrown [1998]

Released to only a handful of theaters in the spring and summer of 1998, Homegrown was neglected by nervous distributors who couldn't figure out how to market a movie about marijuana farmers. As a result, hardly anyone saw this cleverly plotted comedy-thriller about three experienced pot growers in northern California (Billy Bob Thornton, Hank Azaria, and Ryan Phillippe) who guard their valuable outdoor crop against raids by the cops and unwanted competitors. When their mysterious leader is apparently murdered, Thornton assumes the dead man's identity to arrange one last, lucrative bumper-crop deal, but pulling off the scam proves to be a lot harder than they'd anticipated. While the three potheads seek refuge with an old colleague (Kelly Lynch) and routinely sample their goods (which explains the film's theatrical obscurity), Homegrown turns into a taut thriller fueled by equal parts comedy and paranoid tension--an update of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with marijuana instead of gold! Featuring cameo roles for Jamie Lee Curtis, Ted Danson, and John Lithgow, this entertaining film fell victim to the misguided fear that it promotes drugs and illegal activity. If anything, it promotes interesting characters, catchy dialogue, and a welcomed alternative to mainstream Hollywood comedies. --Jeff Shannon

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