As this inclement spring fades into summer, people have begun to feel energized, ready for another carefree season full of activity, sun, and the beach. Like a triple espresso shot or the prospect of an exciting night out on the town, summer never ceases to reinvigorate those who have floundered through a cold winter and a gloomy spring. The world seems to abound in fecundity, as trees sport emerald green leaves, iridescent flowers tantalize with their unparalleled sweetness, and verdurous swards of grass seem ideal for an enjoyable picnic. Patio beers are a must in the summer, and boat shoes replace boots as the perfect footwear. And who doesn’t enjoy the ubiquity of women wearing summer dresses? There is, of course, another element that seems apropos in summer—that is, toking. Indeed, what better accompaniment for a carefree summer day than a spliff?
But there is one eternal truth to smoking spliffs: they always cause indolence. Many tokers would rather chill out than go on that 40km bike ride or hike that onerous trail. And when those sultry summer days begin to oppress us, the television always stands its ground, promising us a summer-appropriate adventure in the comfort of our own chesterfield. And now we’ve zeroed in on three important elements that, among other things, constitute the pot-smoking ethos: weed (duh), television, and relaxation.
One thing that’s missing from this equation, though, is the entertainment. Films have long provided pot smokers with fun divagations that make getting high a mirthful experience. Since the release of Reefer Madness in the early twentieth century, a film full of shameless vignettes that are meant to dissuade pot smokers from smoking but, instead, engender more smiles than frowns, pot and film have gone hand in hand—a beautiful symmetry, if you will. And many films have been made that appeal specifically to pot smokers. These films celebrate smoking pot or speak to that particular ethos. Filmmakers like Kevin Smith, for example, leverage pot smoking to enrich their diageses, highlighting the act as an everyday, unspectacular thing that characters do. This unabashed use of pot in film creates an affective link with pot-smoking viewers who likewise like to kick back and smoke a spliff. On the other hand, irrespective of pot use within the diagesis, films that are crassly or senselessly funny also appeal to pot smokers who are less aware of political correctness than the average viewer. That is to say, given its well-documented effects, pot goes well with comedies.
This list thus looks at ten classic “stoner” films. These films mostly deal explicitly with weed, but others are just hilarious and thereby appeal to pot smokers. Let us know if you think we missed any of your favorite films!
10 Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke (1978)
Cheech and Chong’s is one of the first films aimed at a pot-smoking demographic, and it features two well-known pot smokers, Cheech Marin and Jimmy Chong. This pot-smoking duo co-wrote the screenplay, and Lou Adler directed. The narrative, of course, is simple, as the two protagonists get deported to Mexico and, in order to get back into the US, agree to drive a van across the border—a van that, unbeknownst to them at first, is made up of marijuana. What ensues is a wild, fun-filled adventure full of senselessness and hilarious antics. A lot of weed is smoked in this film, so it will appeal to any pot smoker who feels inordinately oppressed by virtue of their illicit proclivity.
9 Pineapple Express (2008)
No, Pineapple Express is not a kid-friendly summertime sequel to the Polar Express; the film’s title does not refer to transportation but a strain of weed. Indeed, having gotten his hands on the elusive strain, Saul (James Franco) hooks his favourite customer, Dale (Seth Rogen), up with some of it. However, this weed should never have come into Saul’s hands, and a ruthless crime boss soon targets these two pot-smoking protagonists. Written by the indomitable duo of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the film is lighthearted and whimsical, with a good deal of pot and hilarity. If nothing else, this film will certainly inspire industrious pot smokers to give the ‘ol “cross” joint a try.
8 Friday (1995)
Written by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh and directed by F. Gary Gray, Friday is a film that no stoner should miss. Chris Tucker plays the infinitely wise Smokey, an assiduous pot smoker who wants to get Ice Cube’s character, Craig, high. Smokey says, “I know you don’t smoke weed; I know this. But I’m gonna get you high today, ‘cause it’s Friday.” How can one not be persuaded by that? As the title intimates, the narrative takes place over the course of one pot-filled Friday. Smoke and Craig have a brilliant repartee, and they counterpoise each other throughout—Craig with his calmness and reticence and Smokey with his effusiveness.
7 Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
This film starts out rather bleak, as a luckless office employee has to endure the racist antics of his colleagues, who foist an unfair amount of work on him so they can enjoy a weekend of partying. However, when he gets home, he and his roommate begin an epic session that ends with them craving one thing: White Castle burgers. Murphy’s Law best describes their subsequent mission to White Castle, as the two hit every proverbial road block and encounter strange characters along the way—such as two ostensibly prim and proper undergraduate girls who play a game called “Battleshits” while defecating. In a sense, the film ironically undercuts crass stereotypes that have been attached to Asian and Indian-Americans through these two protagonists’ weed-fuelled adventure. In any case, the film is hilarious.
6 Half Baked (1998)
Written by Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan, Half Baked is about a group of not-so-bright friends who sell pot in order to bail their friend out of jail. In the process, they wind up in the midst of a vicious rivalry between their supplier and another. Full of daft characters and wacky episodes, the narrative climaxes with a showdown between the friends and the rival drug dealer, Samson. They vanquish Samson and bail their friend out of jail, but the storyline is the least interesting part of this film, as the hilarious things that transpire are the real stuff of this film.
5 Dazed and Confused (1993)
The masterful Richard Linklater directs this fun-filled teen film that stars a slew of famous actors. Indeed, Matthew McConaughey, Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Adam Goldberg, and Parker Posey, to name a few, all star in this film, and the ensemble cast breathes life into this story which, at its core, is about teenage angst and passion. A lot of pot is smoked in this film, and like many other films on this list, it’s just something the characters do. Pot smokers will love this film for its unabashed treatment of teenage drug use. For instance, there is one scene in which the characters desperately try to conceal their pot smoking from adults, resorting to all the classic tactics like spraying air freshener. Played by Rory Cochrane, Ron Slater’s tangent about George and Martha Washington and their relationship with weed will bring a smile to any stoner’s face.
4 The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Big Lebowski, directed by the formidable Coen Brothers, is a cult classic for film audiences, especially stoners. If anyone captures the spirit of pot smokers, it’s the Dude, who loves to cruise around town, drinking (casually, that is), bowling, and smoking reefer. In this film, the repartee between the three main characters—the Dude, Walter, and Donny—is the highlight, as Walter’s pseudo-intellectual bluster contrasts hilariously with the Dude’s laidback demeanor and Donny’s cluelessness. Walter’s paroxysms, the nihilists’ nefariousness, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character’s uncomfortable laugh make this film a hilarious ride from start to finish.
3 Mallrats (1995)
The inclusion of this Kevin Smith-created film will surprise his fans, since other films of oeuvre deal more explicitly with pot. However, Mallrats seems apropos for this list because of its lack of action, as the characters just hang out in a mall all day. Outrageous moments pervade this film, as every character brings something different to the table. Jason Lee’s character, Brodie, goes on tangents about why Lois Lane could not support Superman’s seed—“His sperm would shoot holes in her back!”—while Jason Mewes’ character, Jay, prattles on with diatribes freighted with obscenities. Indeed, Mallrats is a classic hangout flick for stoners.
2 Grandma’s Boy (2006)
The introduction to this list mentioned the weed trifecta, but this film adds another element into the mix that has been pleasing stoners since Atari: video games! Indeed, Grandma’s Boy is about a game designer who creates a wicked game only to have it stolen from underneath his fingertips by his dastardly boss. The protagonist and his band of merry pot smokers try to rectify the issue, and what ensues is a narrative full of pot-fuelled hilarity. Weird characters and situations pervade this film, but the film nails being over the top without alienating viewers.
1 Wayne’s World (1992)
This list would not be complete without one Mike Myers flick. He and Dana Carvey star in this lighthearted and whimsical film about two slackers trying to make their public-access television show a success. The owner of a big television network steps in as a sort of benefactor for the two metal heads, and, of course, things do not go as planned. If for no other reason, this film is perfect stoner bait by virtue of its funny scene in which the two main characters and their two friends sing along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” while cruising around town.