Half Baked Cast

Hit Movies

10 Stoner Comedies We Can’t Stop Watching

Spend 4/20 with IFC's Hit Movies marathon.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

It seems bizarre that marijuana has only recently gained some acceptance in this country of ours. For most of our lives it’s been illegal, the purview of teenage drug dealers with crappy mustaches, and yet in just the last few years states have started legalizing it, and making some serious bank as a result. One assumes we’re not far off from a Starbucks-like franchise, filled with all your favorite kind buds. The weird thing is, going off of movies, you never would have known weed was somehow frowned upon. Sure, it may have been illegal, but pot has inspired countless comedies that took it about as seriously as a pie to the face. For the young stoners of the last few decades, that must have been a welcome relief, to see their red-eyed doppelgangers up on the big screen. Or maybe they didn’t even notice. They were stoned, after all. Here are just a few of our favorite stoner comedies, which always give a giggle fit, whether we’re high or just high on life.

10. Smiley Face

Smiley Face

Gregg Araki’s Smiley Face may not be the most famous stoner comedy, but it just might be the most silly. The premise is simple: Anna Farris, who always seems a bit baked to begin with, accidentally consumes her roommate’s pot cupcakes, right before setting off on an incredibly busy day. With a murderer’s row of cameos from the likes of Brian Posehn and Danny Trejo popping up, there’s always something to keep your attention, but the real star of the show is Ms. Farris. Whether she’s devouring Sun Chips or fighting to save her pricey mattress, the Scary Movie star is a natural when it comes to playing high off her behind. There isn’t much to this trifle of a movie, but then again, have you ever tried watching it…on weed?!


9. How High

How High

From Animal House to Legally Blonde, you can’t go wrong throwing a bunch of slobs and dummies onto a college campus and letting them tear it up. How High is rap icons Method Man and Redman’s spin on the genre, going full Cheech and Chong in this fried fish out of water comedy. Let’s be clear, this movie isn’t just dumb; it is gleefully stupid in the best possible sense. The premise involves a type of weed that summons a ghost, who helps the East Coast rappers cheat on their THCs, a version of the SATs. (THCS! Get it????) This leads our stoned protagonists to enroll at Harvard, and proceed to turn the school upside-down. Whether they’re getting barnyard animals blotto’d, helping dorky classmates learn how to party, or driving the school’s administration batty, these Wu Tang alums take a tired formula and reinvent it with their lowbrow charm. If you’re a fan of college comedies, hip-hop or just getting toasted, there’s something for the stoner in all of us here.


8. Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express

James Franco and Seth Rogen got their start playing stoner friends on the much beloved sitcom Freaks and Geeks. Judging by this movie, they really took their roles to heart. Reunited in a movie co-written by Rogen, the two play burnouts on the run after witnessing a murder. Sort of like a Midnight Run for the medical marijuana generation, the two movie stars have no trouble playing blazed. They must just be really good at acting, right?


7. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Harold and Kumar

With a premise that any stoner can relate to, Harold and Kumar launched a franchise by getting a wicked case of the munchies. Any trip to the store can feel like an adventure after smoking a spliff, but for these two stoners, the adventure was real, compete with a Freakshow foursome, a baked cheetah, and a psychotic Neil Patrick Harris. With the best product placement of all time, this movie makes us crave a joint and a burger every time we watch it.


6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fast Times

Everyone was getting stoned or laid in Fast Times at Ridegemont High, THE classic high school comedy of the ’80s. Still, for our money, if we’re talking potheads, there’s only one character worth mentioning. Jeff Spicoli was the stoner we wanted to be when we grow up. Living life like a waking dream, Spicoli knew that pizza cravings wait for no man. That’s why he had one delivered in the middle of class. Sean Penn would never again play such a comedic character, but his riff on the ultimate ’80s burnout was an all-timer, helping propel a generation of kids to take a toke. All Spicoli needed were some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and he was fine. That is called living the dream.


5. Half Baked

Half Baked

Before Dave Chappelle fled to Africa, before he became a household name, before he created one of the most influential sketch shows of the 21st century, he was the brains behind this cult comedy, about a group of dopey friends who decided to sell weed to raise some cash for their friend’s bail. A Day-Glo colored walk through the mid-’90s marijuana scene, Chappelle and company created a real love letter to getting high.


4. Up in Smoke

Up in Smoke

Before there was Seth Rogen and Dave Chappelle, there were Cheech and Chong, the granddaddies of counter culture cannabis comedy. From their humble roots on the stages of Southern California, the duo parlayed their cult status into a feature film, 1978’s Up In Smoke. No one had ever seen anything like it. A riff on Abbot and Costello, if they were stoned doofuses, the comedy duo tapped into a burgeoning vein in the American psyche and rode it to superstardom. Up In Smoke is the first, best glimpse at what the two could do with a film budget and some kind bud.


3. Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused

For teenagers in the ’90s, there was no better example of the life they were living than this ode to the teenagers of a different era. Nostalgia aside, this Richard Linklater classic nailed the trials and tribulations of growing up. With a diverse cast of burnouts and weirdoes, Dazed and Confused showed a real world, full of sexual longing, extreme neurosis, and lots and lots of weed. Everyone knew a kid like Slater, the good-natured stoner who got along with everyone and was going nowhere. Hell, most of us bought our weed from him.


2. Friday

Friday

Like a bookend to Ice Cube’s Boyz n the Hood, this comedy riff on getting high in the hood was a smash when it came out in 1995, and is largely responsible for introducing the world to Chris Tucker (for better or worse). Director F. Gary Gray had worked with Cube before, directing the video for “It Was A Good Day.” This reunion sees them explore another good day in the hood, where two friends go on a mad dash for money, ladies and a good buzz.


1. The Big Lebowski

"The

Our favorite stoner character of all time, although granted, that’s just like our opinion, man. Jeff “the Dude” Lebowski is not having a good day, but that doesn’t mean he can’t keep his buzz going, and just try to roll with the punches. (Sometimes literally.) Whether he’s getting tossed out of Malibu, attacked by nihilists or hallucinating the best bowling game ever, as long as Donny would shut up, there isn’t a day we’d rather spend with him.

Spend 4/20 with IFC’s Hit Movie marathon.

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Rocky IV Paulie Robot

Mr. Roboto

5 Reasons Rocky IV Is Too Rotten to Miss

Catch Rocky IV Friday at 8P during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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Photo Credit: MGM/UA/YouTube

When Rocky IV was released in 1985, the critics were not kind. (While it wasn’t around back then, the film’s 39% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes speaks for itself.) Less of a movie than a jingoistic music video starring a robot and a steroid-addled, monosyllabic Russian baddie, Rocky IV is a far cry from the Italian Stallion’s humble origins.

Still, more than any movie ever made, it exemplifies the whole “so bad its good” genre. This movie was made for us, the great-unwashed masses of the 1980s, who loved the band Survivor and hated those Commie bastards. Before you catch Rocky IV on IFC’s Rotten Fridays, let’s take a look at some moments that make this flick a “too rotten to miss” classic.

5. That Opening Shot

Rocky IV
United Artists

It takes all of 30 seconds for the audience to know they’re in for one ridiculous rollercoaster ride through a Cold War conniption fit of good vs. evil. Gone is the subtle tone and grounded reality of the first Rocky. In its place we see two gloves, one emblazoned with the American flag, the other with the Soviets’, hurtling toward each other. When they collide, sparks fly, and we witness an explosion decades in the making.

In case the symbolism is too subtle for you, director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone is trying to hint that this movie will be the clash of civilizations we’d all been waiting for, but instead of nuclear bombs, a humble palooka from the streets would be duking it out in the ring with the ultimate representation of coldhearted Communism. If it were up to us, this opening shot would’ve won Best Picture all by itself.


4. So Many Montages

Rocky IV has a running time of 91 minutes and 20 seconds. Its eight montages (yes, EIGHT) run a total of 29 minutes and 10 seconds. That is one third of the movie solely dedicated to montages. (Considering Stallone’s contempt for all things Soviet, we have to wonder if he knows it was a dirty Ruskie who invented the montage.)

During one of the many, many montages, director Stallone actually flashes back to a scene that had happened a minute and half prior, creating the impression that he might actually flashback to the montage we were just watching in the same montage. Stallone clearly loves a good montage set to an inspirational ’80s song, and so do we. Which brings us to…


3. A Soundtrack Full of Pumped Up ’80s Jams

Speaking of montages, they are set to the score of some of the cheesiest hits from the mid-’80s. For once, we’re spared tracks from Frank Stallone, with Stallone replacing his rocker brother with synth-y singles from Survivor, John Cafferty and Kenny Loggins. And of course, Robert Tepper, possessor of an ’80s mullet that could topple empires, crooning “No Easy Way Out.” The music in this movie is one step away from being a parody of the music in this movie. If you ever want to know what cocaine can do to the human mind, just listen to this soundtrack.


2. Rocky Ends the Cold War

Rocky IV speech
United Artists

In one of the most misguided, self-congratulatory, and immediately dated moments in cinema history, good ol’ galoot Rocky Balboa single-handedly ended the Cold War four years before the Berlin Wall came down.

To quote the Italian Stallion himself: “In here…there were two guys… killing each other. But I guess that’s better than millions. What I’m trying to say is… if I can change… and you can change…everybody can change!” And just like that the Soviet public, generals and even the Premier himself rose to their feet in applause, realizing what fools they’d been. This guy beat Mr. T for Heaven’s sake. He knows what he’s talking about!


1. Paulie’s Robot

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and really consider this for a moment. Rocky IV has a robot butler in it. A movie franchise that began back in 1976 exploring the gritty reality of a bum fighter trying to prove himself somehow limped along long enough to turn into a weak Short Circuit rip-off in which an alcoholic mooch with a history of domestic abuse now gets his coffee served to him by a robot. A robot that he has programmed with a “sultry” lady voice!

Stallone was inspired to include the real life robot Sico in Rocky IV because of the work it did to help autistic children like his son Seargeoh. That’s all very moving, but doesn’t explain why he decided to write a scene where Paulie dubs poor Sico “the love of my life.” It’s a testament to Rocky IV‘s “too rotten to miss” status that Paulie’s robot girlfriend/personal servant isn’t even the craziest thing that happens to Rock and the gang.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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Swimming To Cambodia Spalding Gray

Gray's Anatomy

Everything You Need to Know About the Movie That Inspired “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”

Brand new Documentary Now! airs Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom Pictures

This week Documentary Now! spotlights a master monologist with “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything.” Before you tune in at 10P this Wednesday on IFC, check out our guide to Swimming to Cambodia, the 1987 film that captured writer/performer Spalding Gray’s acclaimed one-person show.

Spalding Gray 101

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures

Actor and renowned monologist Spalding Gray spent two years on stage perfecting his Obie Award-winning “Swimming to Cambodia” monologue. In it, Gray tells the story of his eight weeks in Southeast Asia while shooting the 1984 Academy Award-winning movie The Killing Fields. He had a small role, but the experience gave him several anecdotes about hanging out with the film crew and experiencing the local culture, all while searching for “the perfect moment.”

Directed by the Silence of the Lambs Guy

Hannibal Lecter
Orion Pictures/Everett Collection

Acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme took Gray’s two-night, four hour performance and crafted it down to 85 minutes. His use of dramatic lighting, stylish camerawork and a score by performance artist Laurie Anderson was praised by critics and earned the film a cult following. No stranger to groundbreaking docs, Demme also directed the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, which Documentary Now! pays tribute to in this season’s episode “Final Transmission.”

All about the Voices

While it may have been a one-man show, Gray created a repertoire of characters all with distinctive accents. (He portrayed conversations between himself and others just by turning his head.) Our favorite impressions are of his demanding girlfriend Renee and Ivan Strasberg, the South African director of photography on The Killing Fields who, as depicted by Gray, sounds a bit like a Jamaican surfer.

The Original Cranky New Yorker

In one memorable scene, Gray rants about how his noisy upstairs artist neighbors are driving him and Renee crazy. Even in the mid-’80s, there were New Yorkers complaining that the city wasn’t what it used to be.

Show and Tell

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures/YouTube

A big fan of visual aids, Gray used pull-down maps to illustrate his travels. This helped to bring Swimming to Cambodia to life, since he’s basically sitting at a desk the entire time.

Inspired One-Person Shows

Gray’s groundbreaking performances in Swimming and other documentaries like Monster in a Box and the Steven Soderbergh-directed Gray’s Anatomy (about Gray’s struggle with a rare eye condition) paved the way for future one-person shows. (We wouldn’t have everything from Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” to Mike Birbiglia’s “Sleepwalk With Me” without him.) Even Doc Now! star Fred Armisen got into the one-person show act for his recent SNL monologue.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Spalding Gray when “Parker Gail: Location Is Everything” premieres Wednesday, September 28th at 10P on IFC. 

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Rocky IV Stallone Lundgren

Burning Heart

10 Reasons Why Rocky IV Is the Ultimate Rocky Movie

Catch an all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC.

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Photo Credit: United Artists/Everett Collection

Sure, most people love the first Rocky for its heart, gripping boxing scenes and the classic training montage. Or, you might love Creed for being both a return-to-form and a new exploration of the Rocky mythology. Maybe the thrill of seeing Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie makes Rocky III your top pick. Well, sorry, you’re wrong: Rocky IV is the greatest of all the “Italian Stallion”‘s movies.

Before you watch the all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC (with Rocky IV airing at 8P as part of Rotten Fridays), check out a few reasons to appreciate the fourth installment as the king of the series.

1. The Greatest Opening Ever

How many openings are able to sum up the entire conflict of the film in less than a minute and without a single line of dialogue? And how many of those movies have exploding boxing gloves? Just try to watch the opening sequence above and not be completely psyched for the pumped-up flick to come.


2. Montages!

We all know that the best part of any sports movie is the montage, and Rocky IV doesn’t give you one measly montage. There’s a recap of the previous films montage, a getting to Russia Montage, two training montages and an ending fight montage. That’s five montages! There’s probably a montage of montages snuck in there, too.


3. There’s a Full James Brown Musical Number

This movie is so packed with memorable moments, it’s easy to forget one of the first things that happens in the film: Apollo comes out to fight Drago dressed as a shirtless Uncle Sam, while James Brown and a full band play “Living in America.” To drive home the number’s patriotism, there are dancers in tuxedos and top hats, weird unitards and bowler caps, and bedazzled showgirls with headpieces for miles. Oh, and don’t forget the giant tentacled dragon statue on the stage. This is how every boxing match should start. Heck, this is how we always want to enter a room.


4. The Soundtrack

The Rocky IV soundtrack doesn’t just feature James Brown — it has rock anthems galore, all of which make you immediately want to hit the gym. From “Heart’s on Fire” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band to “Sweetest Victory” by Touch to multiple Survivor jams, you’ll get pumped and stay pumped. Even the instrumental score rocks! Sure, sometimes it sounds like it was made on a kids Casio, but this soundtrack never quits and — to quote Robert Tepper — never takes the easy way out.


5. Abs!

Rocky IV weights

Every Rocky movie shows off Stallone’s incredible physique, but Rocky IV really ups the game. Not only do we get Dolph Lundgren mostly shirtless looking like a man machine, but we get a wide variety of scenes of Stallone doing impossible tasks. Stallone’s crazy dragon fly crunches, aka a thing no human should be able to do, automatically take this movie to the top.


6. Two words: Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago
United Artists

Not only does Rocky IV explore the global conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, but it encapsulates all of our fears of the Cold War in one perfect villain. Ivan Drago only trains with machines and science and looks like he stepped out of an Aryan Nations recruitment poster. He also only responds in short, cold phrases like “If he dies, he dies,” or “I must break you.” There’s never been a villain who we so clearly want to get the crap beat out of than Ivan Drago.


7. Rocky Makes Chores Look Badass

Rocky saw
United Artists

Rocky doesn’t need to be hooked up to machines to become the perfect fighter. All he needs are huge tires and some outdoor chores to do. No one’s ever looked cooler chopping wood and using tractor parts. Half of his training is lifting an old wagon, probably to fix a broken axle. If anything, this film inspires us to take care of that gardening work we’ve been neglecting.


8. Rocky’s Beard

Rocky IV Beard

Stallone’s beard game is truly on point in Rocky IV. And this isn’t some “I forgot to shave, here’s a little stubble” look. No, we get full out, lumberjack-style beard action. Does any other Rocky movie have our hero looking like an old Russian aristocrat? Another point for Rocky IV.


9. There’s a robot!

Again, there’s so much to Rocky IV, you probably forgot about the robot. Well, Rocky has some money now and he’s not going to spend it on frivolous things for himself. He’s going to buy Paulie a robot! The best part of this scene is how truly disturbed Paulie is by this new technology until he gives it a sexy lady voice.


10. Rocky Ends the Cold War

If you’re still not convinced that Rocky IV is the greatest, answer this question: Does any other Rocky movie bring peace between the US and Russia?

By the end of the film, Rocky rises up to beat the seemingly undefeatable Drago. He fights so well, that even the Russians begin to appreciate his skills. Then, instead of using his victory to prove America’s superiority, he gives a rousing speech of “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!” The whole crowd goes wild, including all of the Russian government, who we assume give up Communism immediately based solely on Rocky’s words. Stallone’s call for international reconciliation through brutal fighting and a variety of montages makes this if not one of the greatest films of all time, certainly the greatest Rocky of them all.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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