Stoner movies are typically thought to be exclusively comedies, often centered around pot or pot smoking. Although these films are abundant and often surprisingly good, many people forget that there are plenty of other movies out there that can benefit from a few tokes before viewing.
Most stoner movie lists seem to forget or dismiss these movies out of hand. This list attempts to provide a more comprehensive list of movies to watch stoned, rather than simply stoner movies.
10. The Fountain: This isn’t a movie for a lazy Sunday chill session. It’s dark, intense, and complex. However, it is one of the best movies to watch and then discuss while high. The breathtaking visuals and score make watching it high a fantastic experience. The complex and vague themes and plot, while arguably a bit pretentious, are perfect for prolonged high discussions. For all you pothead philosophers out there, “The Fountain” is a must-see.
9. Reefer Madness: “Reefer Madness” began under the title “Tell Your Children” as a propaganda film financed by a church group about the danger of cannabis use. It details the downfall of teenagers as they become addicted to, as the film puts it, “marihuana” and their descent into insanity and violence. While unintentional, “Reefer Madness” is one of the better stoner comedies out there and is highly recommended, if only to laugh at its unintentional ridiculousness.
8. Friday/Dazed and Confused: These are two very similar films executed in drastically different methods. Both of these comedies stand out with their breakout performances and clever storytelling. “Friday” focuses on two friends who, after getting high, must try to find the money to pay a drug dealer before the day is out. “Dazed and Confused” is all about the final day of school and details one teen’s struggle between conforming to authority or rebelling against it. Both tell the story of a day in the life of a character that helps define that character’s identity. Both deal with the clash of youth and maturity found in young adulthood. Plus, both are really funny.
7. Grandma’s Boy: A classic stoner comedy that is wonderfully quotable and ridiculous. It features an ensemble cast of comedians in the prime of their careers, each with incredibly unique characterizations. It isn’t particularly clever or subtle, the plot isn’t rich or detailed, but who cares when you have scenes with grandmothers accidentally getting high, two stoned characters deciding to let a monkey drive them to work, or a villain who occasionally speaks in a robot voice for no clear reason. The quotability of “Grandma’s Boy” cannot be overstated, as almost every scene in the movie features several memorable lines of dialogue. You’ll find yourself and your stoner pals quoting this movie for years to come.
6. Up in Smoke: Arguably the first true stoner comedy, “Up in Smoke” is a wildly fun blast from the past and required viewing for any young pothead who wants to know more about the history of stoner culture. While it does feel its age at times, it still has too many moments of pure hilarity to count.
5. Pineapple Express: Possibly the first (and only) stoner action film ever made. “Pineapple Express” is thoroughly grounded in reality, but still remains funny and clever through humorous characterization and witty dialogue. Although at times painfully realistic, it’s a unique take on the stoner genre that shouldn’t be missed. Especially noteworthy is James Franco’s performance and excellent cinematography of a caliber rarely seen in stoner cinema.
4. Yellow Submarine: An often overlooked film, it was written by The Beatles in their heyday and is a wonderful combination of beautiful abstract animation and classic Beatles songs. “Yellow Submarine” is just trippy enough in narrative and visuals to delight, while not being so intense that it is bewildering. It has a certain childlike sense of innocence and wonder that stoners will be all too familiar with. This is a film perfect for any stoner of any mindset or background, but is especially great for fans of The Beatles.
3. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle: The quintessential stoner comedy, “Harold and Kumar” is a staple of any required viewing list for stoners. What elevates it above its predecessors in the genre is the fact that, despite making use of classic stoner comedy staples, “Harold and Kumar” is under the surface a surprisingly smart movie about subverting racial stereotypes. The pair face constant societal pressures to behave in a certain way due to their ethnicity and fight hard to defy these stereotypes. The ridiculous yet hilarious elements of the film are just an added bonus, performed perfectly by Kal Penn and John Cho, whose chemistry could carry the movie alone.
2. Half-Baked: Dave Chappelle’s breakout film is filled to the brim with his ever present wit. It is also unique among stoner comedies as a film not so much about the drug itself as the culture that surrounds it. Each character represents a stoner archetype, including the guy that wears tie-dye and listens to old records all day, the artistic smoker who uses pot as a way of getting her creative juices flowing, the enhancement smoker who simply smokes pot because he feels it makes doing everything else more fun, and many, many more. The only downside to the film is that executives meddled with and simplified much of the film to try to appeal to wider audiences and it shows. Still, all stoners should be able to appreciate this film and it will no doubt cause endless discussion regarding the different sorts of smokers within cannabis culture.
1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Perhaps a surprise to some, this tops the charts. The breathtaking visuals and variety of themes in “Lord of the Rings” make it an instant stoner classic. After all, what group of smoking buddies haven’t at one time or another tried to make plans to watch the entire trilogy together. It has a variety of interweaving subplots for the more analytical to enjoy, and these are filled to the brim with themes of industrialism versus naturalism, power and temptation, the duality of man, and many more that stoner philosophers can spend hours discussing at length. Yet still at its heart is a story as old as time that anyone can appreciate, of someone of no great importance being thrown into a conflict much bigger than them. Any stoner of any nature can enjoy these movies in one way or another.
*Okay, so really it’s a top 13