Stoner movies are a dime a dozen now, but there was a time where the only films that prominently featured cannabis were essentially anti-pot propaganda where the characters' lives fell apart after smoking some "reefer." We've come a long way from movies that vilified the stoner to weed-friendly flicks that feature people having fun and openly smoking pot.
Everyone has their own definition of a stoner movie. It could be a movie that deals with cannabis culture or one that's great to get stoned to. While "The Wizard of Oz" and "Dark Side of the Moon" are a classic stoner pairing, this list of stoner movies also features protagonists who frequently consume marijuana and get into wild adventures throughout the film.
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In 1936, "Reefer Madness" was released as a public service announcement to parents about the dangers of smoking reefer. In the film, teenagers from a local high school are enticed to smoke weed by a couple of dealers. After the teens smoke their first joint, their lives are marred by accidents, murder, suicide, and addiction.
Its overly theatrical production and heavy-handed take on morality earned it a place as one of the worst movies ever made. Today, "Reefer Madness" has become a cult classic and unintentionally hilarious film of America's reaction to marijuana use.
Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke
Some would argue that the Cheech & Chong movies were the catalyst for the rise of the stoner movie. In 1978, "Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke" cemented the role of the buddy stoner film. In the film, Cheech Marin's character, Pedro de Pacas, picks up a hitchhiker (Tommy Chong) who leaves his parents his house out of fear of being sent off to military school.
Throughout the film, they smoke and buy weed, and eventually get law enforcement's attention. They're arrested, go to court, get deported by the INS, and get in a high-speed car chase. After evading police and unintentionally getting them high, they manage to win a Battle of the Bands contest and
a recording contract, all while stoned.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is a stoner movie about high school students, part-time jobs, getting in trouble with teachers, romantic relationships, and, of course, cannabis. Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli, the stoned surfer, has dreams of becoming a legendary surfer in Hawaii, but first, he has to avoid getting in trouble with his history teacher, Mr. Hand. Spicoli's character went on to influence many future stoner film characters.
Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater's 1976 stoner film, "Dazed and Confused," takes place during the last day of high school in a small Texas town. From freshman hazing rituals to copious alcohol consumption, this stoner movie perfectly encapsulates a youthful and rebellious spirit along with some quotable stoney lines by Matthew McConaughey's character, David Wooderson.
Dante Hicks gets called into work at the convenience store on his day off. Understandably, he's less than enthused and so is his friend, Randal, the clerk at the video store next door. On top of every piece of bad news Dante receives, he has to deal with two marijuana dealers loitering outside the store, all on what was supposed to be his day off. Clerks is a dry, witty, and dark stoner comedy that gave rise to the Jay and Silent Bob characters, the two dealers, earning them multiple film cameos and their own movie.
"Friday," is a must-watch stoner movie for everyone, even if you don't smoke weed. Ice Cube and Chris Tucker are just hanging out, minding their own business, while they're witness to wacky situations occurring in their neighborhood. Things get dicey when they start to smoke Smokey's (Chris Tucker) supply. Now, they have to pay a vengeful dealer or else. A crazy girlfriend and a neighborhood bully complicate matters. This comedy has earned its place in the stoner film canon. Don't miss out on its sequels, too.
Tamra Davis' "Half Baked" has a special place in my heart as one of the first stoner movies I ever watched. A group of four roommates just want to have fun and smoke some cannabis, but after one of them gets arrested on his way to get munchies, they have to start selling stolen medical cannabis to bail him out. Dave Chappelle, Harland Williams, Jim Breuer, Guillermo Diaz, and tons of celebrity cameos, make this a critically-reviled, but hilarious stoner movie.
Method Man (Silas) and Redman (Jamal) are two pot-smoking students who smoke a magical batch of weed, which conjures up the ghost of their recently deceased friend, Ivory. Ivory helps them get a perfect score by giving them the answers to their exam for college. They engage in hijinks, but eventually their magical batch runs out.
The Big Lebowski
The Coen Brothers wrote, produced, and directed 1998's "The Big Lebowski," a revered stoner and crime film. "The Dude" (Jeff Bridges) is just a weed-and-bowling-loving guy who finds himself as a go-between between a millionaire and kidnappers who kidnapped his trophy girlfriend. "The Dude" enlists the help of his bowling friends, which is a disastrous mistake.
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Harold and Kumar come from a long line of stoner duos such as Cheech & Chong and Bill and Ted. Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) just wanted to satisfy their munchies with some White Castle burgers. A simple excursion through a White Castle drive-thru gets complicated with raccoon attacks, having to perform surgery, car crashes, and more. Also, Neil Patrick Harris plays himself on ecstasy.
Seth Rogen plays Dale, a process server, who witnesses a murder with his weed dealer Saul (James Franco). After they skid away in their car in a panic, the murderer finds their leftover roach of the notorious Pineapple Express strain on the ground. What follows is a high-octane chain of events that ends in an explosive finale. It's truly one of the best stoner comedies ever.
Super High Me
Doug Benson is a stand-up comedian and actor behind the "Doug Loves Movies" podcast, "Getting Doug With High" Youtube channel, and a couple of Comedy Central shows in the past. In 2008, he made a parody film of "Super Size Me" called "Super High Me" during which he tests out what would happen if he smoked as much cannabis as possible in 30 days. He compared the effects to abstaining from smoking pot and the results were surprising. It's educational, funny, and a stoner film classic.
This is merely a limited list of the best stoner movies of all-time. Honorable mentions include "Easy Rider," "True Romance, "This is the End," "Dude, Where's My Car?," and "Super Troopers." Stoner comedies have helped normalize cannabis culture through innocuous entertainment. You can enjoy stoner movies without marijuana, but weed adds another layer of amusement to your movie-watching experience.
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