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Rosetta Stoned

average rating is 3 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Mar 21, 2024

Film Reviews
Rosetta Stoned
Directed by:
Benjamin Vomastek
Written by:
Benjamin Vomastek
Jalen Steudle, Chadwick Marge, Ruby Sevcik

Throwback stoner comedy Rosetta Stoned is packed with puerile humour, is awkwardly shot, and forgets plot points more often than its leads forget the time. And yet an infectious, youthful rebelliousness, and entertaining central dynamic from its main cast won me around as a viewer. It’s far from high art, or even from matching the highlights of its niche genre, but its fine for an uplifting story and a good few laughs.


Edward (Jalen Steudle) is a high-functioning autistic high-schooler with a goal to get high for the first time. He meets the reclusive Ryan (Chadwick Marge), a stoner kid who constantly lets down both his caring girlfriend Cindy (Ruby Sevcik) and uncaring teacher Mr. Davis (Don Knill). Ryan agrees to let Edward copy his homework in exchange for weed. But Edward begins to value the arrangement more than Ryan expects, and tries to force an unlikely friendship between the pair.


As a low budget stoner comedy, Rosetta Stoned was always going to have highs (get it?) and lows. Gross-out, infantile comedy is practically a tent-pole of the genre that audiences will be expecting. But here the cruder of the gags either fail to land, or the filmmakers refrain from fully committing to the shock factor. A pivotal scene involving Edward’s actions at a party is strongly alluded to, but not shown or even described directly – leaving plenty of comedic potential on the table.


The film is far funnier and more entertaining when exploring the growing respect between Edward and Ryan – particularly once Ryan begins to thaw towards his socially inept new friend and tries to teach him how to smoke properly. Jalen Steudle and Chadwick Marge make for a likeable leading pair – and their growth as characters clearly reflects on the other in an authentic and meaningful way. Cindy’s attraction to Ryan in the film’s beginning is baffling considering what we know of him, but their reconciliation later in the film upon Ryan’s maturing feels earned. Similarly, Edward’s growing confidence naturally results from Ryan’s smartening him up, yet the consequences show that he still needs a real friend to help him navigate the high school world.


A classic 90s/early 00s spirit is invoked by the use of scratchy pop-punk which harkens back to upstart stoner films of the past, despite the film being firmly set in present day. As a self-confessed passion project from director and writer Benjamin Vomastek, its just one of the signs of love and admiration for stoner counter-culture. Quite whether this will translate for today’s high-schoolers (and presumable prospective audience) is up for debate, but as a geriatric pop-punker myself (and proud of it), it is an appreciated touch that taps right into my nostalgia centre – and for a few Blink-182 imitators, the bands don’t sound half bad.


Though contrived, clunky and childish, Rosetta Stoned is pretty much exactly as it advertises itself to be; a high-school stoner comedy in its purest sense. The central theme of friendship and bonding over smoking and trust come across well and the central performances mean viewers will enjoy the growing dynamic at its core and the jokes this results in.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Theatrical Release, Digital / DVD Release, Indie Feature Film
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