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      Humboldt County

      R Released Sep 26, 2008 1 hr. 36 min. Comedy Drama List
      60% 20 Reviews Tomatometer 59% 1,000+ Ratings Audience Score Aspiring doctor Peter Hadley (Jeremy Strong) gets the shock of his life when his hard-nosed father (Peter Bogdanovich) -- and medical-school professor -- fails him, invalidating his acceptance to an elite residency program. His long-standing life plan suddenly in question, the introverted Hadley stumbles through the streets of Los Angeles, until a one-night stand with singer Bogart (Fairuza Balk) lands him on an unexpected pilgrimage to Humboldt County, the marijuana capital of the West Coast. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Premiered Mar 02 Buy Now

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      Audience Reviews

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      Audience Member I saw this in the theater in Humboldt County with a boy I had met there. Like Peter Hadley, I was from somewhere else. Unlike Peter Hadley, I was searching, not kidnapped, and especially curious about medical pot, because I suffer from refractory epilepsy. Back then it wasn't legal in my state. My ex-boyfriend said, "I didn't like it. It was too realistic." To this day I remember him saying that, and wonder about it, because I see the characters as absurd symbols for what the creators want to express. However this is a propaganda movie. It tries to make you feel sympathy for people growing pot and the character who takes you on this journey is a guy who might be a doctor. That doesn't make it bad. I think it's for legalization. You cry for Max The Truman because his life as a pot farmer was given to him by his parents, and he's afraid he will give it to his daughter. From the outsider's perspective, Peter Hadley, he's envious of Max. Max and Jack live their lives freely like true men. They don't allow someone to tell them what to do if they don't believe it's right so they don't follow the rules. They can do whatever they want, unless they get shot at. Although he tries to deny this envy, it's there. By comparison, Peter Hadley's life is nothing but an endless cascade of paperwork as he sleepwalks through life doing exactly as his father wishes. However, that's exactly what Max has been doing, and why he eventually kills himself. Or just has an accident that was confusing. Peter Bogdanovitch look's very much like a dour basset hound. So does J.K. Simmons, actually. Strange. Peter Hadley might start to look like a basset hound too. Anyway, his rejection of his father to get on the bus is really a symbol that unlike his father who dismisses the idea of medical marijuana, he has by that time embraced it. Brad Dourif is a favorite of mine as he's terrific at being really creepy. He was in a Star Trek episode and was a super creepy murderer guy. Other actor's who excel at being super creepy are Patrick Fischler.But Dourif's performance as a creepy hippie was somewhat creepy but also lovably creepy. The true cowards here are the DEA, for stealing people's livelihoods, the true hero, the hippies for not doing what their told. Unfortunately, it has to be a tragedy, because you have to understand that people are hurt by prohibition. I recommend the movie even though it's a bit silly and obviously very politically motivated. And Peter Hadley is right. Humboldt County is beautiful and magical, and that's why I miss it. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/23/23 Full Review Audience Member The drive to excel and succeed is at the heart of Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs' film Humboldt County, a movie about the very essence of counterculture that centers around the comparatively high strung and vicariously ambitious protagonist Peter Hadley, an aspiring doctor in danger of being expelled from his medical school program by his own father. After failing to properly diagnose a "patient's" symptoms in an examination, Peter's world begins to unravel, his narrow worldview, previously defined by his father's dour professionalism and constrictive practicality, opened up to failure and an existential searching of the soul for meaning outside of the established social mores and expectations of the educated, employed, and bourgeois. When Peter strikes up a conversation with the "patient" whom he fails to diagnose, a free spirited actress whose playfully christens herself Bogart, Peter enters into another world, a Wonderland of sorts where normal societal rules and expectations cease to matter, and the pursuit of earthly and animal pleasures take on a newfound profundity and spiritual necessity, destabilizing the preconditioned rigidity of Peter's very being. Upon discovering that he has been led into a world of lethargy and sensuality, Peter becomes unhinged, stranded in a world of marijuana farming and dorm room philosophizing, the very concept of a formal education followed by professional employment an abstract and existentially ridiculous idea. Then, when Bogart abruptly leaves him without notice, Peter is forced to grapple with the abstractions of his own sense of self-worth and worldly identity, his own station in society made as malleable and unstructured as the new way of being that he will soon find a way into not only accepting, but embracing as fundamentally necessary to his own sanity and well being, the counterculture the only tether connecting him in any way to the centralizing forces of conformity and structure. Much of Grodsky and Jacobs' film is disorienting, the early scenes of academic examination and cross examination coldly familiar, but never intimate, hinting at an underlying sadness held between Peter and his father, a distance of mind and character that mirrors the very alienating nature of mainstream society. The only cure, then, comes in the counterculture personified in Bogart and her California coast town of hippies and stoners, more a state of mind than an actual geographical location, as the mores and values of the locale's countercultural ideology and illicit activities prove to hold the powers of reorientation and spiritual renewal, the mainstream more prone to fostering emotionally stagnant and hopeless characters. While a lot of the film feels a little too stereotypical and dramatically convenient, with a steady supply of burn out stoners and mainstream outliers and outcasts who prove to be more genuine than their conformist counterparts, the spirit of individualism and idealistic rebellion is viscerally felt, even if that feeling elicits only a contact high, stronger bud surely available elsewhere. As Peter delves more deeply into the counterculture of Bogart's world, he becomes more dissatisfied with the emptiness of his father's expectations, but is left with little means with which to address this fundamental crisis of the soul. While the ethos of Humboldt County is decidedly warm and inviting, it leaves little incentive to stay, growth found outside its environs, making it a failed utopia, its enlightened inhabitants as trapped by their tacitly accepted ideology as their straight-laced counterparts in their capitulations to the self-defeating system of capitalism and its associated enticements of upward mobility. A lot of the failure of Grodsky and Jacobs' film comes in its lackadaisical attitude towards a more rigid and structured narrative, its characters content to hint at things only tangentially represented in the film's script and unfocused direction. While much of Humboldt County is gripping and emotionally appealing, its hapless heroes immediately lovable in their optimism and propensity for harmless rebellion, Grodsky and Jacobs can't seem to take their script anywhere near the coherency of its individual protagonists, lending to the sense of temporal and geographical dislocation that becomes the film's most glaring fault. While there is in point of fact an actual Humboldt County located on the coast of California, the region factors very little into the cast of characters that make up the film's fiction, their own individual idiosyncrasies and features making up for what is otherwise a topographically formless cinematic world. Without the focus of a tangibly defined setting for its characters to inhabit and for the plot to unfold within, Humboldt County grows unwieldy, an initially satirical romp that meanders its way into a hazy political thriller, countercultural farce encroached upon by the conformity of dramatic progression. In this way, Grodsky and Jacobs lose sight of their initial engagement with the very forces that their film haphazardly attempts to reconcile, counterculture and the mainstream sitting side by side within a pantheon of other failed utopias, fictional or otherwise. When the film concludes, with Peter and his father tacitly sharing the space between conformity and rebellion, Peter opts to return to hedonism, with no reaction or comprehension on the part of the film's tyrannical patriarch, which is perhaps a perfect encapsulation of all of the film's overriding faults, as well as its occasionally poetic brilliance. While Humboldt County is at times engaging in its send up of the very notion of counterculture as an ideology worth embracing, it's also unable to leave the world of conformity far behind, returning to it in the film's tense climax and penultimate tragedy, leaving a ruin for which Peter returns to at film's end, the tonal incongruity of the film's plot marring what is otherwise an alluringly ephemeral daydream of unstructured societal bliss. What's more, the viewer never leaves the diner in which Peter's father sits in self-assured contentment at film's end, thus disallowing the satisfaction of Peter's final refusal to conform acknowledged, suggesting the ideological impenetrability of the socially conservative, counterculture rebuffed via the unengaged apathy of the mainstream. And yet, there is still some narrative promise in Peter's final departure, lending hope to the dream of anarchic individualism, the mainstream left alone and unresponsive in the existential desolation that is the American diner. There is plenty of room for improvement in the film's unfocused script and perhaps intentionally unstructured direction, but then much of the film's charm would be lost, the credential virtues of cultural rebellion irretrievably lost, its fictional paradise a fading utopia, a dream recounted one too many times. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/09/23 Full Review walter m In "Humboldt County," Peter(Jeremy Strong) botches his final exam so badly that even his father(Peter Bogdanovich) is forced to fail him, making him lose out on a prestigious residency as a result. Finding solace in the arms and body of Bogart(Fairuza Balk), a jazz singer, Peter with nothing better to do decides to also accompany her north to her family home in Northern California. And then she promptly abandons him to the care of Rosie(Frances Conroy) and Jack(Brad Dourif). But once Max(Chris Messina) takes care of an irrigation problem, he will drop off Peter at the bus stop. The problem with "Humboldt County" is not its wanting to attempt a fish out of water comedy which could still work under the right circumstances. Which this isn't. Because once Fairuza Balk and her goofy grin leave the premises, the movie falls flat, especially in the all-important character development department. Of course, that's what happens when you have a protagonist who is not even awkward or uptight(which would be bad enough for a prospective doctor) but totally unresponsive. That leaves Frances Conroy, Brad Dourif and the usually reliable Chris Messina very little to work with. But the second to last shot, an extended one, is rather lovely. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member This is very underrated. It's definitely a little subtle and meandering, but also charming and worth the hour and a half. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member Fantastic. Balance of life and death, good/evil... Life... Don't take it so seriously. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review Audience Member Great story. Amazing job by Strong. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/24/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

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      David Fear Time Out Rated: 3/5 Nov 17, 2011 Full Review Maureen M. Hart Chicago Tribune Be prepared: Humboldt County is a slow starter. But what appears to be the cliched uptight nerd liberated by flighty sprite tale evolves into something deeper, darker, more resonant. Rated: 3/4 Nov 20, 2008 Full Review Joe Leydon Variety An amiably paced, character-driven comedy-drama about a disenchanted student who finds himself among the unreconstructed hippies and second-generation fringe dwellers who farm marijuana in the Lost Coast region of Northern California. Oct 18, 2008 Full Review Jay Antani the whole thing feels wrong and cheeky Rated: 2/5 Oct 20, 2008 Full Review Jules Brenner Cinema Signals It becomes an endearing journey, even with the shock of Bogart's sudden departure from the scene and the movie's change of pace. Rated: 3/4 Oct 18, 2008 Full Review Don R. Lewis Film Threat The characters are so well defined, the acting so top-notch and the cinematography so stunning, I was able to forgive what I saw as script issues. Rated: 4/5 Oct 18, 2008 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Aspiring doctor Peter Hadley (Jeremy Strong) gets the shock of his life when his hard-nosed father (Peter Bogdanovich) -- and medical-school professor -- fails him, invalidating his acceptance to an elite residency program. His long-standing life plan suddenly in question, the introverted Hadley stumbles through the streets of Los Angeles, until a one-night stand with singer Bogart (Fairuza Balk) lands him on an unexpected pilgrimage to Humboldt County, the marijuana capital of the West Coast.
      Darren Grodsky, Danny Jacobs
      Executive Producer
      Todd Senturia
      Darren Grodsky, Danny Jacobs
      Magnolia Pictures
      Production Co
      Embark Productions
      R (Drug Content|Language Throughout)
      Comedy, Drama
      Original Language
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Sep 26, 2008, Limited
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Jan 14, 2010
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      Most Popular at Home Now