I’ve had the pleasure of being a guest on Doug Benson’s podcast once or twice, and I’ll let you in on a big secret. Ready? Here it is: (This guy really enjoys marijuana.) Mr. Benson is also a deceptively clever deadpan comedian, a ravenous movie geek, and a sincerely nice guy — so of course I had to tune in to the man’s latest documentary. The full title pretty much tells you all you need to know, and that title is this: Chronic-Con, Episode 420: A New Dope. Because pot smokers really dig puns that reference A) marijuana, B) Star Wars, and C) Morgan Spurlock all in one shot. (Or at least I do.)
This laid-back and amiable documentary chronic-les little more than Mr. Benson’s perpetually baked 2014 trek through the world-famous San Diego Comic-Con. The comedian’s main goals are to A) track down celebrated documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (director of Super Size Me and Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope), and to B) smoke some marijuana with a fully-costumed superhero — but we also get to tag along as Benson records a podcast, chills with some fans, performs a little stand-up, shares a quick chat with Kevin Smith, roams the convention floor, crashes a wild party, smokes a lot of weed, and basically wanders around, both stunned and amused by some of the crazier costumed attendees. (One of whom is actually Patton Oswalt.)
Like the Spurlock documentary, Chronic-Con isn’t really “about” much more than giving people an insider’s look at a wildly popular event, but in that regard the film scores some fairly high marks. A documentary about the country’s largest comic book convention risks coming off as A) corporate marketing or B) sarcastic derision, but Doug (who’s not even a comic book aficionado!) seems to be having a pretty good time at SDCC, all things considered. Comic-Con regulars may note that Chronic-Con doesn’t really delve into the panels, the sales floor, or the inner workings of the massive event, but those who’ve never attended SDCC, but are still sort of curious about what goes on there, will probably appreciate this enjoyably askew “Doug’s-eye-view” perspective.
Tailor-made for Benson’s loyal fan-base — and those who love all things related to marijuana and/or Comic-Con, of course — Chronic-Con, Episode 420: A New Dope isn’t exactly a Ken Burns-style documentary, but if you’re looking for a 75-minute diversion that combines weed, comedy, comic book characters, movie geeks, and the quest for Morgan Spurlock into one easy-to-consume package, then you’ll probably have a good time with this flick.
Plus I bet you want to see which superhero Doug finally smokes up with.
3.5 out of 5 baked burritos
[Chronic-Con is now available for legal consumption at Netflix.]