The portrayal of stoners in movies can influence the public perception on weed consumption. While some films propagate misconceptions, others do a great job of showing different sides to stoners, reminding us that not all 420 fans are lazy and do nothing but get baked.
Stoners On The Big Screen
The motion picture industry has witnessed an increasing number of stoner films since the 70s, with some seeing more success than others. Before you switch on the TV, check out this list of our favorite picks… and let us know what you think!
1. The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Big Lebowski was written, produced and directed by the Coen brothers – Joel and Ethan. This crime and comedy film features Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski – a laidback pot-smoking hippie and bowling enthusiast who is assaulted after being mistaken for a war-veteran millionaire (of the same name). The story revolves around “The Dude’s” roller coaster quest for payback.
Among the best pot scenes in this movie is when “The Dude” crashes his car trying to throw a lit joint through the closed window.
The perfect blend of quirky characters, great plot and amazing soundtrack has made The Big Lebowski a genuine cult classic.
2. Scary Movie (2000)
Despite the misleading title, the Scary Movie films are actually comedies. More slapstick than scary, they spoof scenes of well-known horror and mystery films such as Scream (1996) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, the story revolves around a group of teenagers tormented by a masked murderer after a hit and run.
One of the best scenes is when Shorty (Marlon Wayans) and his friends are getting stoned. While the guys are busy using a fish tank as a bong, the masked murderer bursts into the room. Instead of killing them all, he joins in for a toot of their “good sh*t.”
3. Dazed & Confused (1993)
Dazed and Confused is a coming-of-age comedy film written and directed by Richard Linklater. The plot of this classic stoner movie revolves around different groups of Texas teenagers, enjoying their last day of school with hot girls, alcohol, and, of course, weed. The film features an excellent spread of jocks, nerds and burnouts, played by brilliant actors including Matthew McConaughey, Jason London, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey and Adam Goldberg.
One memorable scene is watching the seniors smoking weed and pondering how George Washington successfully grew fields of marijuana in the Southern States, “behind every good man, there is a woman. And that woman is Martha Washington. And everyday George would come home, she would have a big fat bowl waiting for him.”
4. Pineapple Express (2008)
In this terrific stoner action movie, a process server – Dale (Seth Rogen) and his cannabis dealer Saul (James Franco) – get themselves into hot water after after Dale witnesses a murder. The perps tracks them thanks to a dropped butt of Pineapple Express.
This film is jam-packed with humor, absurdity and action and it stands head and shoulders above most other stoner movies.
5. Grandma’s Boy (2006)
The 2006 stoner comedy film – Grandma’s Boy – is directed by Nicholaus Goossen and written by Allen Covert (who also stars) and Nick Swardson. The movie documents the life of a 35-year old video game tester, Alex (Allen Covert), who’s kicked out of his apartment after his friend Josh (Jonathan Loughran), squanders their rent money on Filipino hookers. Alex is forced to live with his grandmother, Lilly (Doris Roberts) together with her eccentric friends – Bea (Shirley Knight) and Grace (Shirley Jones).
The plot features hilarious episodes involving video games and tonnes of weed. One of the best scenes is the giggling grandmas, stoned after mistaking marijuana tea for something they are more used to.
6. Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2004)
This American stoner comedy film is written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg and directed by Danny Leiner. The plot follows main stars, Harold Lee (John Cho), a Korean-American investment banker and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) an Indian-American medical-school candidate, in their pursuit to satisfy their post-weed cravings – hamburgers at White Castle. What’s supposed to be a short trip becomes a crazy journey of hilarious mishaps. We have raccoons, prison and debauchery, what else do you need?
7. Up in Smoke (1978)
Up in Smoke is a classic stoner comedy movie written by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, directed by Lou Adler. The film features the dynamic duo, Cheech and Chong as they embark on a road trip with hopes of finding top quality weed. However, the pair ended up being deported to Mexico due to a series of misadventures. In their desperation to get home and catch up on their gig, they unknowingly get involved in a smuggling plot. Their long trip home is accompanied by two crazy female hitchhikers and cops hot on their heels.
The movie was initially dismissed by the masses but later recognized as the foundation of the stoner comedy genre. Despite the low-budget production, the film made it to the 15th highest-grossing films of 1978 and spawned a couple of follow-ups.
8. How High (2001)
How High is written by Dustin Lee Abraham and directed by Jesse Dylan. This highly entertaining film presents two underachieving stoner buddies, Silas (Method Man) and Jamal (Redman) who, with the help of some magical weed, aced their “THC” (Testing for Higher Credentials) – some sort of college entrance exam. This in turn leads them to Harvard University. However, when their mystical weed runs out, they can rely only on each other and their creativity to pursue that Ivy League degree.
With its incredible fusion of comical characters and an amazing soundtrack, How High could be anyone’s go-to stoner movie. It won the Stony Award for the Best Stoner Movies in 2002 and listed as third “Best Stoner Movie” by Entertainment Weekly.
9. American Ultra (2015)
American Ultra is a 2015 comedy action film written by Max Landis and directed by Nima Nourizadeh. The film stars Mike (Jesse Eisenberg), a stoner who lives in a small town of West Virginia with his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). The drama begins when Mike discovers his true identity – a survivor of the Wiseman Ultra program and a lethal sleeper agent – when his rival, Yates (Topher Grace), tries to kill Mike and Phoebe.
It’s among the first of its kind to portray ‘potheads’ differently. Instead of starring goofy, reckless and clichéd dopers, the protagonists in this film are heroes in their own right. The fact they smoke weed is incidental to their roles in the plot and the film doesn’t revolve around marijuana. Cannabis is neither demonized or glorified, a refreshing step forward in the destigmatization of the wonderful herb.
High-ly Recommended Flicks
The world of stoner movies has plenty of gags, action, tragedy and absurdity. Some of these movies aren’t just top stoner flicks, they could also be considered among the greatest films of all time. As more stoner movies are released, with more balanced viewpoints, this should help clear up some of the misconceptions and negativity surrounding cannabis. After all, there are few things more influential than the movies!