Gone To Pot: Screenwriter On Natalie Portman's New Stoner-Road Trip Comedy


Natalie Portman’s cannabis connections: Next fall’s Your Highness, admissions of college weed-smoking, now Best Buds. “Everyone has a cause. Some people have cancer, some have literacy. Mine is proving that women smoke weed too,” its screenwriter Jamie Denbo tells us.

Denbo is an actress and writer who co-created Ronna And Beverly and is a regular at the Upright Citizens Brigade. She just closed a deal with Portman’s production company on the movie, which is now looking for a director and the rest of the cast. Portman herself will star.

The galvanizing moment for Denbo was the scene in Knocked Up when Katherine Heigl’s character makes Seth Rogen’s give up his bong. “It just seemed like a metaphor of, ‘Put down the bong and we can get married.’ That’s not how it goes in my house. It’s more like, ‘Hey, you’re pregnant, maybe stop smoking weed for fucking five minutes,” jokes Denbo, who is the mother of two. “That was never the women that I knew.”

Denbo is a big fan of classic stoner hits like Half Baked and the Harold And Kumar movies. “This is a comedy. It’s going to be touted as a chick stoner movie, but hopefully it’s a stoner movie for all stoners,” she says.

More broadly, she said, “I just wished there was a movie where woman got to be funny. Not just a crew of ragtag funny guys and the hot girl.”

Take The Hangover, which she calls “one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. I love crazy guy comedy stuff. But it would be nice to see some of the other characters that are funny be women. People forget that the biggest scene stealer in Knocked Up was Kristen Wiig. Not every woman is a bitch or a whore. Not every movie. Not in every scenario.”

Like The Hangover, Best Buds has a road trip and a wedding at its center, with female friends hitting the road to cure a bride friend’s woes with weed. “It’s essentially about best friends and girlfriends,” Denbo says. “It’s more about real girl friendship, and not, one girl is the ingénue and one girl is her whippersnapper best friend. It’s more equal.”

Who would be her ideal director? “Somebody with a great comedic sensibility, who doesn’t distinguish between male and female comedy. So basically, somebody British. It seems to be a very American thing, distinguishing between male and female comedy. Overseas it feels like, If it’s funny, it’s funny.”

In any case, it’s not like there are that many working female directors to choose from. “It would be great if Kathryn Bigelow had any interest in this,” says Denbo. “I’m going to guess with her heavy workload and depressing subject matter that she smokes a lot of weed at night. At least I hope she does. And if she does — Kathryn, we’re open to it.”

Denbo knows she’s up against cliches that women simply aren’t funny or can’t carry an irreverent comedy. “I think there’s enough comedy to be mined from women,” she says, “It may be different. As a general rule, dicks are funnier than vaginas. Vaginas are kind of gross. They’re interior, and people don’t know what going on in there. Dicks are all out there. They look like bananas and walnuts. They look stupid.”

That said, dick jokes may have reached their peak. “They’ve gotten to a point with dick jokes that now they have to show a dick for it to be funny,” says Denbo, pointing to Jason Segal in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. “If you showed a woman with her legs spread that wouldn’t be funny. People would be disturbed by that. I would be disturbed by that. But boobs? Always funny. No problem with boobs.”

Related: Natalie Portman Set To Star In Stoner Road Comedy [Pajiba]

Earlier: In Other News, Sky Blue

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