It all started in 1936 with Reefer Madness, an over-the-top cautionary film warning wholesome families of “an unspeakable scourge” threatening the nation. Little did filmmakers know, they’re attempt to create an invaluable piece of anti-drug propaganda would backfire and, in fact, unintentionally become one of the first ever comedic stoner films.
Undeterred by the campy warnings and exaggerated consequences of “the Real Public Enemy Number One,” recreational drug use skyrocketed, as did the onslaught of drug humor into the mainstream. Filmmakers and writers have come out of the woodwork to create drug-fueled comedies for our intoxicated enjoyment.
If you’re new to pot culture and unfamiliar with the stoner film genre, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 classics. So order a pizza, pack a bowl, and spend the next 8 hours of couch-lock blazing your way through the stoner film canon.
Up in Smoke (1978) and the rest of the Cheech and Chong series (1978-1984)
Cheech and Chong are the godfathers of ganja. Their inebriated antics paved the way for all subsequent pot flicks, such as the Harold and Kumar trilogy. And nearly 40 years later, audiences, stoned or not, are still giggling over the duo’s attempt to smuggle a truck made entirely of weed across the Mexican border.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
A coming-of-age tale about high school students who bond over pot and partying. Not only does this film’s and accompanying classic rock soundtrack depict the quintessence of ’70s adolescence, it’s chock full of breakout stars, including Mathew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, and Milla Jovovich.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
A schleppy Jeff Bridges brings to life the legendary bathrobe-clad stoner saint, The Dude. Filled with stoner existentialism and humor, this Coen Brothers cult classic is a staple of pothead cinema. The film’s success has made such an impact that it has inspired an Internet-based religion called Dudeism and an annual gathering called the Lebowski Fest.
Half Baked (1998)
Before Dave Chapelle was Dave Chepelle, he added to the pothead pantheon by co-writing this hilariously stereotypical diamond in the rough. While the film’s classic cannabis capers failed to impress box offices, the notable cameos by marijuana all-stars like Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Tommy Chong won over the hearts of Comedy Central and the rest of the toker community.
What do you do in South Central when you ain’t got no job and ain’t got sh** to do? You blaze with you BFF on the front porch of yo’ mama’s house. Taking a look at a day in the life of friends Craig (Ice Cube) and the aptly named Smokey (Chris Tucker), Friday is responsible for bringing stoner films back to the Cheech and Chong basics-relishing the simple enjoyment of two friends just smoking and chilling. Friday not only launched the careers of Ice Cube and Tucker but it also kick started the subgenre of urban stoner films.