Censorship in films has changed dramatically since the early days. At one point, filmmakers couldn’t show things such as a couple lying in bed together. In fact, the 1960 horror classic, Psycho was the first to show a toilet. As the times change and artist freedom increases, the censorship relaxes its rules and has allowed explicit nudity and graphic violence. Drugs and drug consumption has also found its way into films. Some of the most popular or “cult classic” films revolve around drugs and those types of character traits. Some critics feel that some drug themed films glorify drug use, while other critics appreciate the realistic and truthful approach. Here is a look some of the most memorable drug filled films.
10) Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, 2004 – Comedy
After smoking marijuana all morning, Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) and Harold Lee (John Cho) go on an adventure full of mishaps and misunderstandings, trying to find a While Castle burger joint. Written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg with director Danny Leiner, the film has received positive reviews, especially for its ethnic choices in its main characters. It’s also notable for helping reignite the career of Neil Patrick Harris, who plays a fictional version of himself. The film was followed up by two sequels; Harold and Kumar Go To Guantanamo Bay and A Very Merry Harold and Kumar Christmas.
9) Scarface, 1983 – Crime-Drama
Scarface tells the story of Cuban gangster, Tony Montana’s rise and fall as a drug lord in Miami. The film stars Al Pacino as Tony Montana and it was directed by Brian De Palma, with the script written by Oliver Stone. Stone, while writing the script, was battling his own cocaine addiction. The film was met with controversy over the language, graphic violence and the strong and frequent drug use. In fact, the film was originally going to get a XXX rating but the Motion Picture Association of America eventually relaxed a little and gave it an R rating. Early in the film, Tony gets a bit of advice, “never get high on your own supply” which he does not listen to. Not only does Tony put the cocaine on the street, he also becomes addicted himself. This affects his relationship with his wife Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer) and his business. As time has gone by, the film has become a cult classic and it’s considered one of the best mob films made to date.
8) Friday, 1995 – Comedy
Craig Jones (Ice Cube) gets fired from UPS and spends his Friday afternoon hanging out with his friend, and small time pot dealer, Smokey (Chris Tucker). All they do is smoke all of their bud. Then, like all lucrative drug dealers, they have to put together enough money to payback Smokey’s boss. The film was directed by F. Gary Gray and co-written by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh. The film has received positive reviews from critics and spawned two sequels, Next Friday and Friday after Next.
7) Dazed and Confused, 1993 – Comedy
The plot follows various teenagers on their last day of school in 1976. Teenagers such as the jock, the pretty girl and of course the stoner, who is getting everyone else stoned. The film was directed and written by Richard Linklater and it initially did poorly at the box office, but would gain cult rankings and be considered one of the funniest and best films of the 90’s. The film is also notable for several actors who went on to gain fame including: Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Adam Goldberg and Matthew McConaughey who’s line, “Alright, Alright” would become equally well known.
6) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1998 – Dark-Comedy
A reporter for a magazine, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his friend/attorney, Dr.Gonzo (Bencio Del Toro) travel to Las Vegas to cover a race and to go on a drug binge. The binge includes, two bags of marijuana, 75 pelts of Mescaline, five sheets of acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, all kinds of uppers and downers, tequila, rum, a case of beer and ether. The film was based on the novel of the same name from 1971. The character of Raoul Duke is based on the writer, Hunter S. Thompson and Dr. Gonzo was based on his friend, Oscar Seta Acosta who disappeared in 1974. The film was directed by a member of the sketch group Monty Python, Terry Gilliam who shares co-writing credits for the screenplay with Tony Grisoni, Alex Cox and Tod Davies. Upon its release, it was considered a box office failure, making $10.6 million below the budget of $18.5 million and critics gave the film mixed reviews. However, over time the film has garnered a cult following and is considered a cult classic.
5) Pineapple Express, 2008 – Comedy
The film’s name is inspired by a real strain of marijuana known as Pineapple Express. The film was directed by David Gordon Green and co-written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The plot follows process server and pot smoker, Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) and his weed dealer, Saul Silver (James Franco) on the run from bad guys, after Dale witnesses a murder. The film has been praised by critics and there has been talk of a sequel. The film grossed $87,341,380 at the box office and James Franco was nominated for a Golden Globe. The film has also received praise for its cinematography.
4) The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013 – Black-Comedy
Jordon Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a stockbroker who runs a firm that engages in fraud and other illegal activities. Jordon’s favorite things in the world are money, Quaaludes and cocaine. The film was written by Terrance Winter, based on the memoirs by Jordon Belfort, and directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is highly successful and greatly controversial with the drug use, moral ambiguity and vulgar language and behavior. However, the film was nominated for several Academy Awards including, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill.
3) Half Baked, 1998 – Comedy
The cult classic Half Baked was co-written by Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan, and directed by Tamara Davis. The film follows three pot-loving friends, Thurgood Jekins (Dave Chappelle), Brian (Jim Breuer) and Scarface (Guillermo Diaz), while they sell cannabis as Mr. Nice Guy to get their other pot-loving friend, Kenny (Harland Williams) out of jail. This was Chappelle’s first starring role in a feature film, besides his successful stand up career and secondary character roles in films like, Undercover Brother and The Nutty Professor. During his appearance on Inside the Actors Studio in 2006, he admitted to heavy marijuana use during that time period. Although critics have given it negative reviews, the film has gained a cult following and is considered successful at the box office with $17,460,020.
2) The Man with the Golden Arm, 1955 – Drama
Frankie Machine, played by Frank Sinatra, is a former heroin addict recently released from prison, who struggles with staying clean. The film caused a lot of controversy because it was one of the first to deal with heroin addiction in a serious way. Because of this, the Motion Picture Association of America refused to give the movie its seal of approval. This would lead to serious changes in the production code in what could be seen on film in terms of drugs, violence and sexuality. The film was based on the novel of the same name and directed by Otto Preminger. Along with Sinatra, the film also starred Kim Novak, Eleanor Parker and Darren McGavin. The movie was nominated for three Academy awards including, Best Music, Best Art Direction and Frank Sinatra was nominated for Best Lead Actor.
1) Cheech and Chong: Up In Smoke, 1978 – Comedy
Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin where a hugely successful stoner comedy duo who’s act included sketches, stand up and music. They formed Cheech and Chong in the late sixties and began working comedy clubs. They eventually released several highly successful comedy albums, with the most successful being, Dave’s Not Here featuring the famous bit of the same name. After nearly a decade of success, they released their first feature film, Up in Smoke directed by Lou Adler and based off of their material. The plots revolve around two stoners driving a truck made of weed across the border from Mexico, and into the States. They then decide to enter a battle of the bands, while being chased by the police. The film was tremendously successful at the box office, bringing in $44,364,244 but over time has received mixed reviews from critics. Regardless, it remains a cult classic.
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