Humboldt County

A storied stretch of land along the Northern California coast, Humboldt County is home to the tallest—and, at 800-plus years, some of the oldest—trees on the face of the earth: the towering coastal redwoods. The region is equally well known for its cash crop of choice, exceptionally high-grade cannabis. A fish-out-of-water story from first-time writer-directors Danny Jacobs and Darren Grodsky (who display little imagination in either discipline), Humboldt County concerns a drippy medical student who finds himself stranded on a pot farm where—surprise, surprise—he re-examines his life and realizes that he's been chasing the wrong dream. Jeremy Strong's minimalist performance in the lead role makes for an unconvincing character arc—he seems almost as ill-at-ease and dispirited by the end of the film as he does at the beginning—and as a stand-in for the audience, he's pretty much a cipher. Far better are Brad Dourif as the paterfamilias of the clan, Madison Davenport as his precocious granddaughter, and a charismatic Chris Messina (unrecognizable from Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as his volatile son. All three turn in fine performances.

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